Inter Milan captain Javier Zanetti has confirmed he will be retiring when his contract expires this summer.
• Wilson: Ageless Zanetti
The Serie A club's president Erick Thohir said recently that Zanetti's playing contract would not be extended and that he would be take on a managerial role, which the 40-year-old has now formalised his decision.
"The time has come to call it a day," Zanetti told Argentinean newspaper La Nacion. "It's a great feeling to be able to retire at nearly 41 years old when I am still feeling good. Football has given me a lot and I have enjoyed every minute of it."
Zanetti has found his chances limited this season after returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon, although simply taking to the field once again after that potentially career-ending injury has given him one final satisfaction at the end of his career.
"I wanted to show that I could play at a competitive level again, and I managed that," he added. "I dreamt about ending my career with Inter -- my home -- and I'm proud to be able to do so.
"I chose to settle in Italy and now a new world is opening up to me. I'm curious and excited about exploring it. In my new managerial role, I will try to be useful to the club even off the field."
Zanetti was one of Massimo Moratti's first signings when he took over the club presidency nearly 20 years ago. In that time, he has won the Champions League, five Serie A titles and four Coppas Italia. He also lifted the UEFA Cup with the Nerazzurri in 1998 and the Club World Cup in 2010.
"The statistics are astonishing," Zanetti added. "When you think I've played something like 1112 games and I'm the only Argentinean ever to have exceeded 1000, and that I am the foreign player who has played the most [Serie A] games with only Paolo Maldini having played more in the history of Italian football. I'm proud of this."