Former Argentina international Javier Zanetti has confirmed he is to retire after spending 19 seasons with Inter.
The veteran defender has struggled with injury of late and, having made just four starts for Inter this season, has decided to hang up his boots.
The former Argentina international, who joined Inter from Banfield in 1995, has been unable to fully recover from an Achilles injury picked up during a league match against Palermo last April. He returned to action on 9 November 2013 at the age of 40 during a match against Livorno but has .
“I feel that now is the right time to do it,” he told La Nacion.
“Because football has given me so much and I have enjoyed every moment. Because after the Achilles injury last April, I wanted to demonstrate that I could return and be competitive, but I could not.
“I feel complete and have realised – to retire at 40 is a priceless feeling. For me it is something that has immense value, and now is the right time.”
Zanetti is relishing the opportunity to remain at Inter in a new capacity.
“I dreamed of finishing my career at Inter, in my home, and I have. It was a lifestyle decision to end the career in Italy, and now, in the function of a sporting manager, I will try to be useful to the team away from the field,” he added.
“A new world opens for me, and that excites me. There will be a thousand things to do.”
Inter president Erick Thohir stated Zanetti would become “part of the management” next season and the player has now confirmed his decision to retire.
“I met with Zanetti some months ago in order to understand his vision,” the Indonesian businessman told reporters last week.
“He will be part of the directors, but we’re agreed that for now he needs to concentrate on the final games he has to play.”
Zanetti holds the record for the most all-time appearances by a non-Italian born player for an Italian club and his 851 official matches for the club put him first in Inter’s all-time appearances list. In terms of Serie A appearances, only Milan legend Paolo Maldini, on 647 has made more than Zanetti’s 610.
The 40-year-old has also won more caps for his country than any other player. With 145 caps won over the course of an international career spanning 17 years, he lies 30 ahead of the next most capped player, fellow defender, Robert Ayala.
As well as five Serie A winners’ medals, Zanetti also won the Champions League and the Coppa Italia four times during his playing days at Inter.