Manchester United have called time on Owen Hargreaves’ career at Old Trafford and will not offer him a new contract.
The decision almost certainly brings an end to the midfielder’s playing days after a terrible time with knee problems.
The 30-year-old managed only 39 appearances during nearly four seasons at United and his tendinitis injuries were a source of frustration for Sir Alex Ferguson as well as the Canadian-born former England international.
But the United manager has refused to write off the rest of his career.
‘This has been a difficult decision knowing how hard the lad has worked to win back his fitness,’ said Ferguson. ‘But we have made it in the hope he will be able to resurrect his career elsewhere.’
The news will come as a bitter blow to Hargreaves, who burst on to the international stage in the build-up to the 2006 World Cup and was a one of England’s best players in Germany.
His performances encouraged Ferguson to fork out £17million in the summer of 2007 to sign him from Bayern Munich, where he won four German titles as well as a European Cup medal in 2001.
But his football nightmare began at the start of his second season with United when tendinitis, which first struck at Munich, deteriorated badly.
Not even the skills of famed Colorado knee specialist Richard Steadman could find a cure.