Iván Helguera has left Real Madrid CF after eight seasons at the Santiago Bernabéu to sign for Primera División and UEFA Champions League rivals Valencia CF.
Despite having a year left on his Madrid contract, the 32-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements by new Madrid coach Bernd Schuster who has acquired centre-backs Pepe and Christoph Metzelder this month to provide competition for the first-choice pairing of Sergio Ramos and Fabio Cannavaro. Helguera had a medical at the Mestalla Stadium this morning before putting pen to paper on a three-year contract.
A Madrid statement said: "Real Madrid would like to thank Iván for the dedication, commitment, effort, and work he exhibited throughout his brilliant career." In all, the defender played 229 league games for Madrid, the club he joined in 1999 from RCD Espanyol, winning the title three times as well as twice being a UEFA Champions League winner. Helguera, who spent the 1997/98 season at AS Roma, has been capped 47 times by Spain. While Madrid will play in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League, Valencia have to come through a third qualifying round tie next month in order to take part.
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