Phil Jones will look back fondly on 12 years at Manchester United despite admitting to “difficult days” in his battle with injuries after it was announced he will be leaving the club in the summer.
The 31-year-old will depart Old Trafford at the end of his contract, having been blighted by injuries for much of his stay.
The defender, who joined from Blackburn in 2011, played 229 times, scoring six goals for United and helping them win one Premier League title, an FA Cup and the Europa League.
Jones, who is yet to decide whether he will carry on playing, said in an open letter on Twitter: “It’s always tough to leave a club. I did so already with Blackburn Rovers, all those years ago aged only 19, but I could never imagine what was to follow.
“My time at United has been nothing short of incredible.
“It’s not a time to be sad. It’s a time to look back, for me and my family, and be happy that I managed to live a dream at United.
“I can always say to my family and friends that not many people get to play for this club, to always be in its history and to be able to look back with such happy memories.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me at Manchester United, where I’ve made friends for life.
“But, most of all, my family, who stuck by me through everything. The biggest one to my wife and two beautiful girls. I cannot put into words the support you’ve given me. We’ve stuck together and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Jones has not played in over a year and managed only 13 appearances since the start of the 2019/20 season and has revealed the turmoil injuries played on him.
“I wish I could have played more. I wish I could have given more to the many squads I played alongside,” he added.
“I will say, from the bottom of my heart, I did everything I could. I did everything the medical team asked of me.
“I never left a stone unturned in the pursuit of living my dream and having the opportunity to represent Manchester United on the pitch. I spent some difficult days away from my family, rehabilitating and recovering away from everyone, recuperating away from the training pitch, which I was desperate to get back to.
“I’ve said before that I found it hard to even speak to my team-mates because I was hurt that I couldn’t help them. I was hurt that my family couldn’t see me on matchdays, and you feel like you’re letting people down.
“Sometimes, in life, things happen that we don’t like, but we have to learn to accept it and be at peace in our minds that we did everything we could to overcome the challenges. In your career, and life, that’s all we can really do.
“I lived a dream at the biggest club in the world. I played for England in major tournaments. At United, I won trophies, most notably the Premier League under Sir Alex, in his final season.”
Ten Hag only worked with Jones on the pitch for 20 minutes in his first training session but praised the defender’s achievements.
The Dutchman said: “He’s had a great career, what he achieved, winning the Premier League, winning FA Cup, winning Europa League, being present at two World Cups, massive career at Man United. So all the credits for his career.”