Former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman's dream of making a return to action with Hong Kong Rangers has been scuppered by a knee injury.
McManaman appeared at a press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday and was expected to feature in the Senior Challenge Shield showdown with South China on Thursday.
'With the injuries I have got, I don't think I can play. I would have loved to have played in this game. Unfortunately, it can't happen,' he told the South China Morning Post.
The former England international, who had retired from football in 2005 after an unsuccessful spell with Manchester City, would have made the 48-hour registration deadline to play at the Mongkok Stadium after travelling to Hong Kong to support friend and Rangers chairman Carson Yeung Ka-shing.
'There's always a chance that Steve will return here and play an exhibition match,' added Yeung.
'He really wanted to play but he hurt his knee in training in Liverpool and rather than risk making his injury worse, he should rest.'
McManaman revealed he is hoping to make a return to action in some capacity.
'Yes, I think so, but not in a professional capacity,' he added. 'I played a couple of months ago for the old Liverpool team (against Celtic). That's something I really enjoyed.
'Certainly, I will play more games but not in a professional capacity like these young boys. Whether I can play is another thing because you need to do some serious training. It's nice to be a fan rather than a player.
'Life has been very good for me. Football has been very good to me. Football has consumed my life since I was 17 . Every day you think about football and every day you prepare for the next game.
'It's nice to step back and travel and see lot's of people. I can see more of my family and spend more time with my wife and young child.'