Defender who snubbed £18 million Manchester United offer retires from football

Christoph Metzelder, once a target for Manchester United, has announced his retirement from football.

David Beckham was not the only ex-Real Madrid footballer to announce his retirement from football today.

German defender Christoph Metzelder also announced it was time to call it quits at the end of the current season, bringing the curtain down on an exciting career which was blighted by injury.

His retirement comes at the relatively young age of 32, after a season at Schalke where he played just four Bundesliga games.

His words were reminiscent of another former Madrid man who recently retired, Michael Owen.

Metzelder said: "I am just being honest with myself and I feel that I am no longer physically able to play consistently at this level," 

"And after 13 years, the fire inside me, which is necessary for this job, has burnt out."

The centre-back began his career at Borussia Dortmund, becoming a full German international and playing a key role in Rudi Voller's Germany side which reached the 2002 World Cup Final, winning the Bundesliga in that same year.

10 years ago in 2003, Metzelder would become a target for Manchester United, who it is reported attempted to sign him as a partner for newly signed Rio Ferdinand, by offering Dortmund £18 million for his services when they fell at the Champions League qualification stage.

Metzelder was quoted by Sky Sports at the time as saying: "Concrete offers from Madrid and Manchester United were presented to me, but both the club and I immediately blocked them."

"Naturally it was an honour to receive these enquiries from the two clubs for me, but a change is not applicable to me at this time." 

He was undergoing rehabilitation from an injury at the time, which says everything about the standing in which he was held that two big bids came in, but in retrospect United at least had a fortunate escape.

This was not due to his talent, for the defender was a colossus at the back with as fine a reading of the game as any central defender of the past decade, but for his terrible luck with injury.

An Achilles problem caused him to miss the entire 2003/04 season, and would only play more than 20 games in a campaign once out of the next six seasons.

He did recover in time to partner Per Mertesacker at the heart of Jurgen Klinsmann's German national team on home turf in 2006, which saw elimination at the semi-final stage, but left Dortmund a year later on a free transfer.

He was signed at last by Real Madrid, and what could have been one of football's great bargains proved a frustrating experience for everybody all round.

He made just nine La Liga appearances in his debut season, and would make just 14 more across the next two, as injury wrecked his Spanish adventure.

He quit the club in 2010 and signed for Schalke, and a year later would finally make it to Old Trafford. He featured in the German club's 2011 Champions League run which saw them eventually eliminated by Manchester United, Metzelder playing 90 minutes as the Red Devils won 4-1 at Old Trafford and 6-1 on aggregate.

His fitness problems would continue, culminating in this season seeing him lose his love for the game, like Michael Owen, simply not being able to live up to his past glories and unable to see a future where his body could allow him to play regularly.

He will forever wonder what could have been, but for now, here's to Christoph Metzelder, when fit one of the best defenders of his generation.

images: © sportbild-dienst, © sportbild-dienst

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