Michael Ballack, former Germany captain, retires at 36

Former Germany captain Michael Ballack has retired from professional football at the age of 36.

Ballack has been without a club since his contract with Bayer Leverkusen ran out at the end of last season.

He represented his country 98 times and also played for Bayern Munich, Kaiserslautern and Chelsea in a 17-year career.

"The last few months without playing football have shown me that the time had come to give it up," he said.

Michael Ballack honours

  • 4 German League titles
  • 3 German Cups
  • 1 German League Cup
  • 1 Premier League title
  • 3 FA Cups
  • 1 League Cup
  • 1 FA Community Shield

Ballack became a free agent at the end of June after Leverkusen failed to offer their former captain a contract extension, and he announced on Tuesday his decision to bring his professional career to an end, despite interest from clubs in Australia.

"I am now looking forward to the next chapter in my life and would like to thank my family and all the amazing people who have supported me, pushed me and accompanied me," he said.

"They have made a major contribution to my success."

Ballack won the first of his four Bundesliga medals with Kaiserslautern in 1998, and was a league title winner three times in four years with Bayern Munich between 2002 and 2006.

He then moved to Premier League side Chelsea in May 2006, where he won the Premier League, the FA Cup three times and the League Cup.

In 2002 while at Leverkusen he finished a runner-up in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, Champions League and World Cup.