Former Ghana and Juventus midfielder, Stephen Appiah, has retired from professional football.
In a statement announcing the retirement Wednesday, Appiah said he was retiring with “a great measure of fulfillment”.
He added: “I wish this day never came because football was life- my life. It made me whole.”
In 2006, Appiah, as Captain of the national team, qualified Ghana to her first ever world cup in Germany.
Appiah led the Black Stars to the round of 16 of that tournament, where they lost 3-0 to Brazil.
Four years later, at the South Africa 2010 World Cup, Appiah helped Ghana reach the quarter-final of the World Cup, becoming only the third African side to achieve that.
The 34-year-old also played for top European sides like Juventus, Brescia, Parma and Fenerbahce and Bologna.
He began his professional career with Hearts of Oak in 1995 and ended with Vojvodina in 2012.
Below, full text of his statement
After two decades and over of what has been an illustrious professional football career I formally announce with deep nostalgia my retirement from football.
I wish this day never came because football was life- my life. It made me whole.
From the sandy pitches at Indadfa park in Accra where my career was honed to the grassy green field in Turin, Italy where my career blossomed, I tell with profound humility a great true story of a Ghanaian patriot who with nothing, from nothing, rose to become a global icon thanks to the power of football.
I retire today with a great measure of fulfillment not just because I bowed out high as captain of the Black Stars but because I bowed out serving my country with honour and selfless dedication in what was, is and will always be the most important sport or activity in Ghana.
To this day, one of my proudest achievements in my career is playing and captaining my country. Every time I wore the most inspiring jersey in the world ‘Black Stars shirt’, I realized how fortunate I was not to only follow in a long line of great players that have played for Ghana but also the joy of representing every Ghanaian that cared passionately about their country. I’m honoured to represent Ghana both on and off the pitch.
In my service, I made mistakes. I probably stepped on some foots; I definitely annoyed others and broke many Ghanaian hearts for not winning a trophy in my tenure even though we came too close many times.
And whilst under my tenure we achieved the single most important dream of qualifying Ghana to the World Cup in Germany 2006, we also shattered many Ghanaian hopes of reaching the semi-final, the first by an African country in our second attempt at the World Cup in South Africa 2010.
Africa was down. Ghana was down. And we the players were down too. I remember that episode with a great deal of pain but for a game that holds no certainty one can only grieve in silence and move on. We moved on.
MY JOURNEY TO THE TOP ECHELONS OF GHANA’S FOOTBALL WAS NOT ALWAYS A BED OF ROSES. IT COULDN’T HAVE. I REMEMBER, AS IF IT WERE YESTERDAY, THE DAYS AT THE ‘LAVENDER HILL’ WHEN I HAD TO TRAIN IN THE SANDY BEACHES OF KORLE-GONNO, A NOT TOO FRAGRANT ENVIRONMENT.
Those were the days when I had to juggle between going to training and still think about what to eat after training.
I remember my days with Accra Hearts of Oak and how my commitment to the game opened a great door of opportunity for me at Starlets 95. I grabbed that opportunity and the rest they say is history.
My career has sent me to many places; brought me closer to many people and i have a dozen more to thank and be grateful to for their immense contribution in my life.
As I close the chapter on my playing career, I want to thank God for how far He has brought me. Thank my family for the support they gave me, thank all my team-mates both Ghanaians and other nationals, thank the great and intelligent managers that I had the pleasure of learning from and most importantly the numerous fans that cared passionately about me, their teams and their country and also supported me and given me the strength to succeed.
Nothing can ever completely replace playing football. However I’m genuinely excited about what lies ahead. I am still open to possibilities with whatever football has to offer from now till when my maker decides to call me.