After more than two decades in professional football, Martin Skrtel is hanging up his boots for health reasons as the Slovakian is in “rather bad” pain
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Former Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel has announced he is retiring from professional football after a 21-year career.
The Slovakia defender, most recently at Spartak Trnava, spent eight and a half years with the Reds, working under the likes of Rafael Benitez, Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp. Appearing in a total of 320 games for Liverpool, he became a key figure during Premier League title fights in 2008/09 and 2013/14, scoring a remarkable seven goals last season.
After leaving Anfield in 2016, Skrtel joined Fenerbahce and subsequently played for Atalanta and Istanbul Basaksehir before returning to his home country last August. The 37-year-old only played nine times for Spartak and has decided to retire due to health reasons.
In a press conference about Sport SK, Skrtel said: “By coming to Trnava, I have fulfilled my dream. I think I still have something to offer the team at this age and could play at the highest level.
“But then there is another medical condition. I have problems with plaques, they limit me not only in football but also in my private life. I can’t remember a day without pain. I’ve trained and fought under pills and injections in the last few months.
“I had a problem walking a hundred meters with my son. The pain is pretty bad. The worst problems are running, jumping and the impact. It’s something we need in football. That’s why I had to decide that the game Happening with Dunajska would be the last, the last not only at Spartak but also in my career.
“I couldn’t imagine life without football, but it’s time to follow your mind, not your heart. We only have one health. I have a civilian life ahead of me and I want to have it on some level, without pain.” “
Skrtel made his Liverpool debut in January 2008 during a FA Cup fourth round tie against Havant & Waterlooville. He cemented his place in the side for the remainder of the season and continued to impress as Liverpool came extremely close to Manchester United in 08/09 for the Premier League title.
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However, he suffered a serious knee injury after colliding with Ched Evans, which ruled him out for a few months. Skrtel came back stronger than ever and forged a solid relationship with Daniel Agger, with his Reds compatriot Jose Enrique claiming it was the “best defensive partnership in the Premier League” of 2012.
He made 36 league appearances in the 13/14 season as the Reds narrowly missed out on the title against Manchester City after a 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace. This was the closest Liverpool came close to winning the top flight and falling a point during Skrtel’s time at Anfield.
Struggling for playing time after Klopp’s arrival in October 2015, Skrtel decided to leave the club at the end of his contract, ending a memorable spell at the Reds. In his senior career, Skrtel made 754 appearances for club and country, including over a century for Slovakia.