Former Real Madrid, Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira retires

BERLIN (AP) — Former Germany midfielder Sami Khedira is retiring from soccer at the end of the season after another injury-hit year.

“It’s a very difficult step but it’s the only right one. Fifteen years of professional soccer have left their marks,” Khedira said in a media call organized by his club Hertha Berlin on Wednesday. “I can no longer do what I ask of myself.”

The 34-year-old Khedira joined Hertha from Italian giant Juventus on the last day of the January transfer window, but was only able to make eight appearances for the club from a possible 14 in its battle against Bundesliga relegation, and none for the full 90 minutes.

“It was a gradual process,” Khedira said of his decision. “I have a demand on myself, I don’t want to push it to the last. I have a responsibility to my body. In the end, my gut feeling decided.”

Khedira said he would have liked to play in front of fans, especially with his younger brother Rani Khedira joining cross-town rival Union Berlin next season, but “the decision feels right in the end.”

Khedira made 77 appearances for Germany, helping it win the World Cup in 2014. His career took off at Stuttgart, which he helped to an unexpected league title in 2007. He joined Real Madrid in 2010 and won a league title in 2012 and the Champions League in 2014 with the Spanish giant. He won five Italian league titles with Juventus after joining in 2015.

But Khedira barely played in his final year at Juventus. His last competitive appearance for the club was in a cup tie against Milan on June 12, 2020, seven months after his previous appearance.

Hertha coach Pál Dárdai praised Khedira’s off-the-field impact.

“He couldn’t help much from a sporting point of view, but from taking care of matters in the changing room, it wasn’t just his name that was world class. It was a great help,” Dárdai said.

Hertha managed to stave off relegation last weekend. Khedira’s last game will be against Hoffenheim on Saturday – if he plays.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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