Andre Schürrle, a World Cup winner with Germany, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 29 after terminating his contract with Borussia Dortmund.
The former member of a Mainz 'boy-band' under current PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, Schürrle's impressive career spanned 207 Bundesliga appearances and a further 68 in England's Premier League for Chelsea and Fulham, while he collected 57 caps and scored 22 goals for Germany, with the 2014 FIFA World Cup triumph – in which he provided the assist for Mario Götze's final winner – the defining moment.
"I want to let you know that I’m stepping away from playing professional football," Schürrle wrote on Instagram. "On behalf of myself and my family I want to thank everybody who was a part of these phenomenal years! The support and love you shared with me was unbelievable and more I could have ever asked for!
"Now I’m ready and open for all the beautiful possibilities that are coming towards me."
Schürrle, 29, spent last season on loan at Spartak Moscow, where he made 13 appearances, scoring once, up to a 4-1 defeat to Rostov on 8 December – a game which will now go down as his last in the game.
His first was 11 years ago, when he made his Bundesliga debut at the age of 18. Featuring in a youthful Mainz side which had just returned to the top flight after two seasons in the second division, Schürrle contributed to two of the club's most successful seasons. The five goals in that debut Bundesliga campaign were relatively scant compared to the 15 he scored in the following season, including an assist for an Adam Szalai goal in a 2-1 win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, the ensuing corner-flag celebration immortalising the two young forwards, together with Lewis Holtby, as Mainz's boy band.
Watch: Schürrle's top five Bundesliga goals
As the Rhineland-Palatinate club reached higher and higher, qualifying for the UEFA Europa League, Schürrle's stock was also rising and rising, with a move to Bayer Leverkusen coming in 2011. He continued to plunder goals and deliver assists in two seasons with Die Werkself, earning a move to Chelsea in 2013.
The Blues' push for UEFA Champions League glory was ended by Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals, with Schürrle featuring in both legs having scored a crucial goal to eliminate PSG in the previous round. Domestically, Schürrle scored eight in 30 Premier League games as Chelsea, coached by Jose Mourinho, finished third.
What followed that summer, however, was the stuff of fairy tales.
Schürrle came from the bench to set Germany on their way to an extra-time win over Algeria, earning them a place in the quarter-finals. Another two goals in the historic 7-1 semi-final victory over hosts Brazil followed, before an injury to Christoph Kramer just half an hour into the final against Argentina saw Germany coach Joachim Löw summon his lucky charm once more.
With a penalty shoot-out looming, Schürrle burst down the left wing and sent a pinpoint cross onto the chest of an unmarked Götze. The rest, as they say, is history.
Schürrle returned to the Bundesliga midway through the 2014/15 season, initially on loan with Wolfsburg, though he earned a permanent move the following summer and, in his first full season back, delivered the goods once again to the tune of nine goals and five assists. That pricked the ears of Dortmund, who pictured him as an ideal addition to their swift, attack-minded formation.
There, he won a second DFB Cup in 2017, having lifted the trophy two years earlier with the Wolves, but he was unable to hold down a regular starting berth and a loan move to Fulham followed. He scored six more Premier League goals back in the English capital – including a sublime volley against Burnley which was a candidate for goal of the season.
He found further personal joy during his second spell in London, with the birth of his first child Kaia, and the enlarged Schürrle family returned to Germany in the summer of 2019, albeit briefly. After a year with Spartak in Russia, Schürrle has decided the time was right to drop anchor and call it a day.
"This decision has been maturing in me for a while now," Schürrle told Germany's Der Spiegel. "The lows were getting lower, and there were fewer and fewer highs."
A reflection of his whole career would tell the opposite story to Schürrle's recent travails, however. The highs of World Cup glory, being a boy-band legend in Mainz and almost a Champions League finalist with Chelsea far outweigh the recent injury setbacks and niggles.
Those may have convinced him to raise the white flag, but his waving of a red and white flag like an air guitar in those Mainz days are a far more evocative souvenir of the career of one of Germany's greatest and most successful wingers.