Former Chelsea star Michael Ballack has retired from professional football

Michael Ballack: Retires from professional football

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Former Germany captain Michael Ballack has announced his retirement from professional football.

Ballack had been without a team after his two-year contract at Bayer Leverkusen expired in June.

He had been reported to be negotiating with clubs in America's MLS and Australia's A-League, but has instead decided to retire.

Having played for Kaiserslautern, Leverkusen 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 before captaining Germany to the Euro 2008 final where they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Spain in Vienna.

Ballack made the last of his 98 appearances for Germany when he captained the team during their friendly defeat against Argentina in March 2010 having made his national debut back in April 1999 against Scotland.

An ankle injury he suffered playing for Chelsea in the FA Cup final in May 2010 ruled Ballack out of the last World Cup in South Africa when he lost the captaincy of the national team to Bayern Munich's Philipp Lahm.

"At the age of 36, I can look back on a long and wonderful time in professional football," he said.

"As a child, I could never have even dreamt of having such a career.

"It was a privilege working with first-class coaches and fantastic team-mates. Of course I am going to miss running out in front of 80,000 spectators or scoring goals.

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

"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.

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