Australian hardman Kevin Muscat announced his retirement today, three weeks after receiving an eight-match A-League ban for a wild tackle that left a fellow player in hospital.
Muscat said he would quit at the end of his club Melbourne Victory's AFC Champion's League campaign, after last month's lengthy ban brought his domestic season to an early close. "After a lot of consideration and deliberation, I kept asking myself 'was it time?', and I realised how frustrated I'd become," Muscat said.
"Turning up for training, not being able to do what I asked of other people throughout my career - and that's giving 100 per cent. Increasingly I found I was unable to do that, and when I was able to do that, it took me a couple of days to recover."
The 37-year-old defender lived up to his uncompromising reputation when he scythed Melbourne Heart's Adrian Zahra in late January, leaving the winger needing knee surgery and ruling him out for the rest of the season. Footage of the tackle went around the world, while TV commentator and ex-Australian goalkeeper Mark Bosnich labelled it "disgraceful".
Muscat caused other serious injuries during a decade-long stint in England and Scotland, during which he was dubbed "probably the most hated man in football" by Birmingham City's Martin Grainger. In 2001, France coach Roger Lemerre described a crunching Muscat tackle that injured Christophe Dugarry as an "act of brutality".
However, Muscat also had his admirers, with English one-time Sydney FC coach Terry Butcher admitting he would love to sign him. Muscat played for Crystal Palace, Wolves, Glasgow Rangers and Millwall during his 21-year playing career, and earned 51 international caps. He will now become assistant coach at Victory.