Juninho: The end is near

Lyon's former Brazilian international midfielder Juninho has admitted that his stellar career is drawing to an end. The 33-year-old - who has been the inspiration behind Lyon's seven successive championships since he arrived from Vasco da Gama in 2001 - said that nevertheless he hopes to break the century of goals mark at the club, which he is presently six short of.

"I know that I am nearing the exit," conceded Juninho, who was capped 44 times and scored seven goals for Brazil. "I feel it is the moment to prepare for the future with my family. The younger players could probably express themselves better without my presence.

"I am under contract till 2010 and don't dare ask for an extension," he added in an interview given to regional newspaper Le Progres.

However, Juninho, who had already intimated last October that he wanted to retire, refused to be explicit about when he would eventually call it a day.

"I have my ideas but I don't want to divulge them," said Juninho. "But the club doesn't know what date I have set and I hope they are understanding about it," added Juninho, who has two readymade replacements waiting in the wings in the shape of Miralem Pjanic and Honorato Ederson.

Juninho admitted he had played less often this term but believed he had lost none of his ability and confessed he still had targets. "When I see the applause when Steven Gerrard scored his 100th goal for Liverpool, I think to myself that is a nice thing to achieve."