Cologne - Former Hamburger SV and FC Bayern München defender Daniel Van Buyten has announced his retirement from professional football.
The 36-year-old was released by Bayern at the end of last season but, despite playing for Belgium at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, has decided to hang up his boots for good.
'New life begins'
"Important decisions are often difficult to make," he wrote in an open letter published in Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure. "I have realised that over recent days. And reason often trumps emotion. My final goal was to play at the World Cup and to give something back to my country. Since January I worked hard and prepared for the big event with the utmost professionalism. My body has certainly suffered for it […] A new life begins for me and I want to spend more time with my wife, my children, and the people I love." Van Buyten started out at Belgian side R. Charleroi S.C in 1998 and, after spending two years with Standard Liege, he signed for Olympique de Marseille. He joined Premier League club Manchester City on loan in January 2004, before moving to the Bundesliga with Hamburg that summer. In 2006 he signed for Bayern with whom he won four Bundesliga titles, four DFB Cups, two Supercups, the 2013 UEFA Champions League, the 2013 UEFA Super Cup and the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup during an eight-year spell in the Bavarian capital. His final Bundesliga appearance came in die Münchner's 1-0 win over VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 34 of the 2013/14 campaign.