Manchester United captain Roy Keane has left the club my mutual consent.
The shock annnouncement came ahead of the weekend clash with Charlton Athletic in The Premiership.
The Old Trafford club confirmed in a statement on Friday that Keane, 34, had left with immediate effect after 12-and-a-half years with United.
“Manchester United has today reached agreement with Roy Keane for Roy to leave the club with immediate effect,” the club said in a statement.
“The agreement allows Roy to sign a long-term deal with another club to enable him to secure his playing career beyond what would have been the end of his contract at United in the summer.”
“The club has offered Roy a testimonial in recognition of his 12-and-a-half years at Old Trafford.
“The club thanks Roy for his major contribution to the club during his years of service.”
Keane, who is currently out injured with a broken metatarsal, has been at the centre of controversy following his announcement that his current deal with United would be his last.
Relations with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson deteriorated after he publicly criticised some of his teammates following the 4-1 Premiership defeat to Middlesbrough.
“It has been a great honour and privilege for me to play for Manchester United for over 12 years,” said Keane on United’s official website.
“During my time at the club, I have been fortunate to play alongside some of the best players in the game and in front of the best supporters in the world. At all times, I have endeavoured to do my best for the management and the team.
“Whilst it is a sad day for me to leave such a great club and manager, I believe that the time has now come for me to move on. After so many years, I will miss everyone at the club.
“I send my best wishes for the future to the management, players, staff and supporters of the club.”
Ferguson said: “Roy Keane has been a fantastic servant for Manchester United.
“The best midfield player in the world of his generation, he is already one of the great figures in our club’s illustrious history.
“Roy has been central to the success of the club in the last 12-and-a-half years and everyone at Old Trafford wishes him well in the rest of his career and beyond.”
Subscribe to World Soccer – The essential football magazine