BERLIN: Former German captain Michael Ballack announced his retirement on Tuesday bringing the curtain down on a stellar career.
Having turned 36 at the end of last month, Ballack has been without a team after his two-year deal at Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen expired in June.
Since leaving Leverkusen, Ballack had been reported to be negotiating with clubs in north America's MSL and Australia's A-League, but has decided to hang up his boots.
“At 36 years of age, I can look back on a long and wonderful time in professional football, which I could never have dreamed of as a child,” he said in a statement.
“It was a privilege to have worked with world-class coaches and fantastic players.
“Of course, I will miss playing playing or scoring a goal in front of 80,000 fans, but the last few months without football have shown me that it is time to stop.
“I am looking forward to a new chapter in my life and thank my family and all the awesome people who have helped and supported me. They are all a big part of my success.”
Ballack made the last of his 98 appearances for Germany when he captained them during their friendly defeat against Argentina in March 2010 having made his national debut back in April 1999 against Scotland.
An ankle injury playing for Chelsea in the FA Cup final in May 2010 ruled him out of the last World Cup in South Africa when he lost the captaincy of the national team to Philipp Lahm.
Having played for Kaiserslautern, Leverkusen - with whom he lost the 2002 Champions League final against Real Madrid - and Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, Ballack spent four years at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea between 2006 and 2010.
He was part of the Blues team which lost the 2008 Champions League final to Manchester United in Moscow on penalties before captaining Germany to the Euro 2008 final, where they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Spain in Vienna.
Ballack is the veteran of two World Cups having been suspended for the 2002 final, when Germany lost 2-0 to Brazil in Japan, before leading the Germans to third at the 2006 tournament they hosted.
After a public spat with Germany coach Joachim Loew in October 2008, when Ballack accused him of not showing his senior players enough loyalty, their relationship deteriorated.
After back-to-back injuries blighted Ballack's first season back with Bayer Leverkusen in the 2010/2011 season, Loew told him he was no longer part of his plans and had no future in the national team.
Loew then offered Ballack an honorary appearance in Germany's friendly victory over Brazil in August 2011, which was refused, and Ballack later appeared for American broadcaster ESPN as a pundit at this June's Euro 2012.