Former Germany captain Ballack retires

Former Germany captain Michael Ballack retired on Tuesday, ending a career highlighted by runs to the 2002 World Cup final and 2008 Euro final and stints with Bayern Munich and Chelsea.

Ballack, 36, scored 42 goals in 98 appearances for Germany from 1999-2010. The Germans lost the 2002 World Cup final to Brazil, 2-0, and the 2008 Euro final to Spain, 1-0. Germany also finished third in the 2006 World Cup.

Ballack last played for Germany before the 2010 World Cup, which he missed due to injury.

"At the age of 36, I can look back on a long and wonderful time in professional football. As a child, I would never have even been able to dream of having such a career," Ballack said.

He began his club career with Chemnitzer FC, and also played at Kaiserslautern and Bayer Leverkusen. He helped Kaiserslautern become the first promoted squad to win the Bundesliga in 1998.

While at Leverkusen, Ballack lost the 2002 Champions League final against Real Madrid. At Bayern from 2002-06, he won three Bundesliga titles. At Chelsea, he won two English Premier League titles but also lost the Champions League final in 2008 against Manchester United.

He finished his club career with a second stint at Leverkusen, but after last season his contract expired.

"The last few months without playing football have shown me that the time had come to give it up," Ballack said.