Hamburg striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has revealed he could hang up his boots at the end of the season and he believes the box striker is a dying breed.
Van Nistelrooy, who has kick-started his career in Germany at the age of 34, believes he may feel the time is right to quit the game next summer even if he has helped fire Hamburg into the Champions League.
Hamburg sit fifth in the table after the opening four games of the season and remain undefeated. Van Nistelrooy, who scored five goals in seven starts after joining Hamburg in January, has already netted three league goals this term, plus scored a hat-trick in the DFB-Pokal clash against Torgelower SV Greif.
That form led to an unexpected recall into the Netherlands squad for the last round of Euro 2012 qualifiers. And he marked that return by coming on as a substitute and scoring in a 5-0 win at San Marino. But even though he has won a return to the international fold he may not be around for the European Championships.
Van Nistelrooy feels that top managers are now favouring forwards who drop deep and run with the ball, rather than the predatory striker who used to be used to such devastating effect.
"I don't have long-term plans anymore," he told Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung. "I have to listen to my body, so I can't say now that I'll be playing in 2012. I look at everything from year to year, see how it is going and then decide whether to carry on. I'm aiming to play consistently and well this season.
"Perhaps I'll carry on, perhaps not. I've no idea how long I have left to play. If Hamburg qualify for the Champions League it would be nice, but when I feel that it is time up for me then I have to go - in or out of the Champions League.
"Is Lionel Messi a striker? He actually embodies a complete forward. He scores goals, he makes them, he dribbles. Just like Cristiano Ronaldo. This is a completely new style, neither is like me, a typical No. 9 who stands up top and always wants to be in the box when something happens. These strikers I don't see so often.
"In the box I can use my best qualities. Everything must come together in less than a second. Where is the defender? Where is the free space? Which of my team-mates has the ball? Marcell Jansen does different things to Eljero Elia, so I must also react differently. A lot has to do with intuition, with the instinct.
"As a striker you need a certain liveliness. Otherwise you're not getting away from your opponent. You always have to be a bit faster, be smarter and do things differently than they would expect.
"It's not just about experience, your body has to join in. If I ever have an idea in mind, but I can no longer physically do it, then perhaps I must think that's it."