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May, 2, 2011

Hyypia announces intention to retire

Bayer Leverkusen defender Sami Hyypia has revealed that he will retire from playing football at the end of the season, bringing to an end a 19-year career.

• Sami Hyypia: Fearless Finn

Hyypia, 37, has been a regular for Leverkusen for the past two seasons since joining the club from Liverpool in 2009, where he spent ten successful years.

The Finland centre-back won the Champions League, UEFA Cup, League Cup and FA Cup (twice) in his time on Merseyside and in 2006 was recognised by the club's fans as the 38th best Reds player of all time.

Hyypia announced that he intends to hang up his boots at a press conference on Monday, though he will continue to work at Leverkusen as an assistant coach and will also become No. 2 to Finland boss Mixu Paatelainen.

"The decision to retire gradually grew during the season,'' Hyypia was reported as saying by Finnish TV station MTV3. "I had no interest any more to go elsewhere to play.

"There are no regrets. Thanks to all those who have helped during the course of my career and to my relatives a big thank you, without family and friends it would not have been possible.''

Speaking about his move into coaching Hyypia added: "It will be an interesting year. I must get a coaching license and then I get the experience of Leverkusen and the national team coaching.

"I'm really happy about this. All who know me know I put myself fully into it. It is 100% or nothing.''

Leverkusen general manager Michael Reschke praised the defender's contribution to the team and the dressing room and said he was delighted to be holding on to the Finn.

"You are a player with an outstanding personality and we are proud to be have someone like you in our ranks," Reschke said. "We're glad you've decided to continue to work for Bayer Leverkusen."

Hyypia has been crowned Finnish Player of the Year nine times in his career, including the past three years in a row and only Jari Litmanen can boast more than the defender's 103 caps for the national team.

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