Former Germany captain Birgit Prinz retires

Former Germany captain Birgit Prinz retired from soccer on Friday, ending a stellar career that included two World Cup and five European titles.

She had already stepped down from the national team after the loss to eventual champion Japan in this year's Women's World Cup held in Germany.

"The time has come for me to end my career as an active football player after 25 years," said Prinz, who had been under contract with FFC Frankfurt since 2002. "This is not an easy decision for me, because playing football was always a big passion of mine. But now feels like the right moment."

Prinz led Germany to World Cup wins in 2003 and 2007. She made 214 international appearances, and similar to U.S. star Mia Hamm, Prinz defined the women's game in the country.

"Prinz played at the highest level for years and has done an awful lot done for women's soccer," said Germany coach Silvia Neid. "She was instrumental in all the successes of the national team."

However, Prinz failed to perform during this year's World Cup and was benched early on by Neid.

The three-time World Player of the Year is tied with Marta for the most World Cup goals at 14.

"Now I look back and think my career went well. Even if the end wasn't optimal," Prinz said. "I had a super time. That stays at the forefront."