Aston Villa captain Martin Laursen has decided to retire after failing to recover from his latest injury setback.
The former Milan defender, who has not played since January, has announced that he will be retiring from football with immediate effect.
He has been plagued by knee problems for many years and the latest setback left him facing a decision about whether to carry on.
The 31-year-old’s retirement will leave a huge void to fill in the Villa defence as he has been one of the club’s most consistent performers in recent seasons.
Manager Martin O’Neill praised the leadership qualities that persuaded him to make Laursen skipper at the beginning of this campaign.
“We’ve missed his defensive qualities, we’ve missed his goals at the other end, but mainly we’ve missed his influence in the team,” he told BBC Radio Five Live.
“Over the last couple of seasons the influence he has exerted has really been terrific.”
Laursen, who made 53 appearances for Denmark before retiring from international football earlier this year, also spent time with homeland club Silkeborg and Italian sides Hellas Verona and Parma earlier in his career.