Juventus attacking midfielder Pavel Nedved has confirmed that he will retire at the end of this season. The 36-year-old has been a stallwart of the Juve team since joining them as a replacement for Real Madrid-bound Zinedine Zidane in 2001, and two years later he won the presitigious Ballon d'Or award.
"I'm still enjoying playing but considering my physical and mental condition I understand that the time has come to make way for younger players - they deserve to play," he told UEFA's official website following Juventus's 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League.
"Maybe you think I'm still young but I'm almost 37. I will quit at the end of the season, no matter how well we do in the Champions League or Serie A. The decision is final and I don't think I will change my mind - I don't need to. It is the right time to quit."
Nedved has had a stunning career both at club and international level, where he has won 91 caps for Czech Republic and was part of the team that lost to Germany in the 1996 European Championship final.
He has won three Serie A titles, including one with Lazio, whom he joined from Sparta Prague following EURO 1996. Nedved then went on to win two league titles with Juventus and play in a Champions League final. He also won three domestic crowns with Sparta.
The one thing missing from his trophy cabinet is the Champions League winner's medal, though, but Claudio Ranieri's team have a tough task ahead of them in their last 16, second leg against Chelsea in Turin, following a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
"I would love to finish my career with victory in the Champions League," he said. "We haven't got a good result tonight but it's not over yet. Anything can happen in the return. I think it is 55-45 to them right now. It will be difficult, but not impossible."
As for what the future holds for Nedved, it is not even something he has thought about. "I haven't talked with Juventus about either a new contract or a role at the club," he added. "However, I think they suspect that I will quit.
"I have talked a lot with my wife and she is a bit tired too. I need to spend more time with my family who have supported me for so many years. For now I will focus on giving my all in the last three months of the season."