Former Barcelona star Abidal announces retirement

first_img1 Former France and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has officially announced his retirement from football.The 35-year-old won four La Liga and two Champions League titles in six seasons with the Catalan giants, but had the latter part of his career affected by heath issues.Abidal underwent surgery to remove a liver tumour in March 2011 but made a rapid recovery and was playing again before the end of the same season. However, in March 2012 it was announced Abidal needed a liver transplant which then kept him out of action for just under 12 months.After getting the all-clear to play again in April 2013, he moved from Barca back to former club Monaco and finished his career with Olympiacos, where he was playing this season.Abidal revealed he has had offers of non-playing roles with the Greek side and Barcelona, where he received a huge amount of support from fans during his time away from the game.The defender said at a press conference: “I depart for personal reasons, as I have said. Only a professional player knows when and how he has to retire.“I have had a lot of very happy moments in my career.“Two months ago I talked with the president and told him, ‘In December I will leave because the time has come’.“I will relax with my family and my friends. I have two offers, from Olympiacos and Barcelona, and I will think about these and take my decision.”Abidal began his top-level career in 2000 when he signed for Monaco from French lower-league side OL Duchere.He then joined Lille before moving in 2004 to his hometown club Lyon, helping them win three Ligue 1 titles in succession as well as reaching the 2007 Coupe de la Ligue final.Further success followed with Barca, with four Spanish titles and Champions League glory in 2009 and 2011, beating Manchester United in the final on each occasion.While those honours – along with helping France to the 2006 World Cup final – feature highly among Abidal’s career highlights, he is grateful simply to have had the chance to play professionally both before and after his illness.“One of the best memories is when you lift a trophy but the best moment is passing from the amateur level to become a professional footballer,” he said. “Your dreams are coming true and then you have to work every day to remain a professional player.”He returned for Barca after his health problems and was given the captain’s armband by regular skipper Carles Puyol after the 2011 European final to allow him to lift the trophy.“It was a very great moment in my career,” he said of his return to action.“In football you have positive moments and negative moments and when a negative moment occurs, you have to be determined.“I used football to forget my illness and at an emotional level, this moment was even greater than lifting a trophy.” Former France and Barcelona defender Eric Abidal last_img

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