Australia's Kewell announces retirement

Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:36am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Harry Kewell, Australia's first world-class footballer, will call time on his roller-coaster 18-year career when the A-League season ends next month, the 35-year-old said on Wednesday.

The Sydney-born former Leeds United, Liverpool and Galatasaray forward had signed a one-year deal with Melbourne Heart in a bid to play in a third World Cup finals, but has spent much of the 2013-14 season sidelined by injury.

"It's hard. It's a sport that I've only ever known," he told a media conference in Melbourne accompanied by his English wife and children.

"I started when I was four-years-old, I started professionally when I was 17, I've had a career of 18 years, it's all I've known.

"The way things panned out for me, I felt it was the right time, I could go out on my terms."

Voted Australia's greatest ever footballer by fans in 2012, Kewell shot to fame with a Premier League debut for Leeds in 1996 as a prodigiously talented 17-year-old and became his country's youngest international weeks later in a match against Chile.

A Champions League trophy with Liverpool and two World Cup appearances in 58 matches for the Socceroos were to follow a glittering 181-game stint for Leeds, but a succession of injuries over the last decade repeatedly curtailed his ambitions, frustrating the player and fans alike.

He shared in Liverpool's 2004-05 Champions League triumph, but lasted only 23 minutes before coming off injured after being named as a surprise starter in the final victory over AC Milan in Istanbul.   Continued...

Australia's Harry Kewell celebrates after scoring against Uzbekistan during their 2011 Asian Cup semi-final soccer match at Khalifa stadium in Doha January 25, 2011. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad