By Harvey Byrne

Mikel Arteta has thanked Rangers fans for their support in a lengthy statement announcing his retirement from football.

The 34-year-old midfielder has brought an end to his playing days to take up a coaching role with Manchester City after being released by Arsenal.

In a statement released via his Twitter account, the Spaniard thanked the Rangers support for the respect and loyalty that they had shown him throughout his career.

The former Everton midfielder joined Rangers at the age of 20 in a £6million move from Barcelona and spent two years at Ibrox.

He made 68 appearances for the Scottish giants and was part of the side that lifted the club’s 50th league title when he scored a late penalty in a 6-1 win over Dunfermline on the final day of the 2002-03 season.

In his statement he said: “Throughout my playing career I was fortunate to play for some fantastic clubs. Moving to the UK was a big decision for me early in my career but it was without doubt the best decision I could have made and helped shape both the player I became on the pitch as well as the person I am today off it.

“I will never forget the support that I’ve enjoyed from the fan and people of all the clubs I played for in the UK. I must give a special mention to the respect and loyalty I’ve received from the Rangers and Everton fans over the years, as well as the support I got from the fans of PSG and Real Sociedad, without forgetting my first professional club Barcelona…… Thank you all for everything.”

Arteta went on to play for Real Sociedad, Everton and Arsenal after leaving Glasgow.

He enjoyed a career which totaled 284 Premier League appearances and 42 league goals and he also made 31 appearances with Europe’s elite in the Champions League.

Despite never getting a senior call to the Spain national team Arteta was once mentioned for the England team, but that soon came to a halt as FIFA rules deemed him ineligible to play for the Three Lions.

In other Rangers news, Kyle Lafferty has revealed he would jump at the chance to return to Ibrox.