Schalke defender Christoph Metzelder has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 32.
After 12 years, 178 Bundesliga games, 23 La Liga apperances and 47 caps for Germany, the former Real Madrid player confirmed on Thursday that he would be hanging up his boots after years of injury problems.
"I am just thankful for my great career," he told the media at the Zeche Ewald in Herten. "The toll of the physical issues increased enormously. Over the last few months, I have struggled through the training sessions. I can't keep pace at that level anymore."
Metzelder began his professional career with Borussia Dortmund in 2001 and, less than a year later, started for Germany in the 2002 World Cup final defeat to Brazil. However, in 2003, an Achilles tendon injury nearly brought an early end to his career as he missed an entire season.
"I still have the letter from the health insurance company telling me I was a sporting invalid," he said. "I was 23. But I fought back."
In 2007, he joined Real Madrid on a free transfer, but injuries denied him the chance to establish himself in the team, and he returned to Bundesliga in 2010 with Schalke.
"It was tough at the beginning," he said. "But I tried to give it my all for team and club, on and off the pitch. I was there when needed. The majority of Schalke fans have respected me for that in particular."
Metzelder announced he will join a German TV channel as a pundit for the next two years, but added: "From this summer on, I will be preparing to take on a [German] management position in club football."