Zidane announces retirement
By Alex Livie
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that he will retire after this summer's World Cup finals.
France superstar Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that he will call time on his illustrious career after this summer's World Cup finals.
The 33-year-old has been at the pinnacle of the game for a decade and has proved his class for both club and country.
However, he has struggled with injuries in the last 18 months and has confirmed that this summer's showpiece event in Germany will be his swansong.
"It's my decision and it's final," the Real Madrid playmaker told French television channel Canal+.
"After the World Cup, I will stop playing football.
"The World Cup is my last goal. That's the only thing I want to focus on.
"I want people to be in the know before the World Cup."
Zidane initially announced his retirement from international football after Euro 2004, but later changed his mind.
However, it would appear that the former Bordeaux man will not change this stance, citing the rigours of the modern game as a catalyst for his announcement.
"The context was different then," Zidane said in reference to 2004.
"This is definitive. I'm stopping everything. Afterwards I can play as an amateur but that's up to me. I'm relieved. Now I can look forward to the World Cup.
"I didn't want to go on for another year. The past two years I haven't been on top form and that's no good when you play at a club like Real.
"I'm at an age when it's more and more difficult (to play) every year. I don't want to spend another year like last year or even the last two years."
The former Juventus star's last game for Real could be on May 7 against Villarreal, while the World Cup finals in Germany could provide the fitting send-off for one of the world's greatest players.
Zidane has accrued 99 caps for his country and has landed the world player of the year award on three occasions, 1998, 2000 and 2003.
He scored twice for his country as France claimed the World Cup on home soil in 1998 and helped them add the European crown to their trophy cabinet in 2000.
However, he was part of the squad that performed so badly in 2002 and 2004 and will be keen to eradicate those memories in Germany this summer.
Real signed Zidane for some £42 million from Juventus in 2001 and his influence at the Santiago Bernabeu will be sorely missed.