Vincent Kompany has ended his 11-year association with Manchester City and been appointed player-manager of Belgian side Anderlecht.
The 33-year-old joined the Brussels club at the age of six, and his career has now come full circle after a trophy-laden stint at City.
He announced on his Facebook page: “I choose to be grateful for the past but remain ambitious and driven for the future.
“For the next three years, I will take up the role of player-manager of Anderlecht. Belgium’s finest.
“This may come as a surprise to you. It’s the most passionate yet rational decision I’ve ever made.”
Kompany revealed that he had met with Anderlecht chairman Marc Coucke and sporting director Michael Verschueren last summer.
“I shared my thoughts and listened to their vision for the future: ambitious, courageous and determined to get back to number one,” he wrote.
“I offered my help, no strings attached, should they need it.”
Kompany says he was then offered the player-manager job in the last few weeks.
“I want to share my knowledge with the next purple generations,” he continued.
“With that, I will also put a bit of Manchester in the heart of Belgium. This is no goodbye. It’s a see you later.”
The central defender was signed by Mark Hughes from German club Hamburg in the summer of 2008, days before the Sheikh Mansour takeover.
He became a key figure in the success which followed, and leaves City having won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups.
Kompany said: “As overwhelming as it is, the time has come for me to go. And what a season to bow out.
“I feel nothing but gratefulness. I am grateful to all those who supported me on a special journey, at a very special club.”
“I remember the first day, as clear as I see the last. I remember the boundless kindness I received from the people of Manchester,” Kompany added.
“I will never forget how all Man City supporters remained loyal to me in good times and especially bad times. Against the odds you have always backed me and inspired me to never give up.
“Sheikh Mansour changed my life and that of all the City fans around the world, for that I am forever grateful. A blue nation has arisen and challenged the established order of things, I find that awesome.
“I cherish the counsel and leadership of a good human being, Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Man City could not be in better hands.”
City chairman Khaldoon paid his own tribute to Kompany.
“There have been many important contributors to Manchester City’s renaissance, but arguably none are more important than Vincent Kompany,” he said.
“He defines the essence of the club. For a decade he has been the lifeblood, the soul, and beating heart of a supremely talented squad.
“A booming voice in the dressing room yet a quiet and measured ambassador off it, Vincent can be as proud of himself as we are of him.”