Michael Ballack, the man who scored the winning goal to defeat the U.S. Men's national team in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, has retired from professional soccer.
The former German national team captain most recently spent the summer as a TV analyst for ESPN during the European championships, and had been linked to a move to Major League Soccer, but that move never materialized and he has decided to stop playing at the age of 36.
Ballack made 98 appearances for Germany, scoring 42 international goals, including that winner against the USA. He enjoyed an outstanding career that included stops at Bayern Munich, Chelsea and twice with Bayer Leverkusen.
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SOLKSJAER LINKED TO BLACKBURN JOB
Former Manchester United star and current Molde FK manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been identified as a leading candidate to take over the head coaching job at Blackburn. Steve Kean quit as manager last week.
Solskjaer's name has been added to a list of candidates that includes Tim Sherwood and Bernd Schuster. The young manager won a league title with Norwegian side Molde in his first season in charge, and currently has Molde in a tie for first place.
Molde happens to be the club of impressive young American winger Josh Gatt, who just might be a player Solksjaer would take with him if and when he leaves Molde. Gatt has been one of Molde's best players under Solsksjaker,
MONTREAL DEFENDER RIVAS HAS KNEE OP
Montreal centerback Nelson Rivas will miss the rest of the season, and be sidelined five months, after undergoing microfracture knee surgery.
Rivas had been carrying a nagging injury for some time before the Impact decided to shut him down for the rest of the season so he could have his knee repaired.
The Colombian centerback started 11 matches for the Impact, but only played in four matches in the past three months.
LLORENTE HAS DUST-UP WITH BIELSA, LEAVES TRAINING
Out-of-favor Spanish national team striker Fernando Llorente stormed out of training on Monday after a verbal altercation with Athletic Bilbao manager Marcelo Bielsa, a new low-point for an ever-worsening relationship between the striker and his club.
A top transfer taret for Europe's biggest teams, Llorente has fallen out of favor with Bielsa, who has used him sparingly this season. Llorente is entering the final year of his contract with Bilbao and looks like a good bet to leave next summer, assuming he isn't sold this winter.
Llorente has scored just one goal for Athletic Bilbao this season, and has been limited to six appearances off the bench. The club sits 17th in the Spanish Premier League standings.
Steven Pienaar has retired from the South African national team.
Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby has been ruled out for three weeks with a thigh strain.
Surprised to see Ballack hang up his boots? Think Solskjaer will eventually be a successful manager in England? See Gatt joinin him in England if he makes the move?
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