In an emotional declaration, former Liverpool center-back Martin Skrtel announced the end of his 21-year football career, citing health reasons.
Skrtel spent eight years in Merseyside, where he was a key member of two title-contending teams under Rafa Benitez in 2008-2009 and Brendan Rodgers in the 2013-2014 season. The Slovakian footballer made 320 appearances for the Reds in total.
However, health issues looked to have caught up with the former Slovakia international, forcing him to retire emotionally. During a press conference in which he announced his retirement, Martin Skrtel said: “By coming to Trnava, I realized my ambition. ‘I believe that even at my age, I can contribute to the squad and play at the highest level.’
“But there’s a medical condition. Plaques bother me; they limit me not only in football but also in my daily life.
“I can’t recall a single day when I wasn’t in pain. In recent months, I’ve been training and wrestling while on medicine and injections.”
“I had difficulty walking a hundred meters with my son. The agony is excruciating. Running, jumping, and impact are the most problematic difficulties. This is something that football really needs. As a result, I had to decide that the match with Dunajska would be my final. Not only in Sparta, but also in my career.
“I couldn’t imagine my life without football, but it’s time to start listening to your head rather than your heart. We only have one life. I have a civil life ahead of me that I want to live on some level, not in anguish.”
Skrtel departed Liverpool in the summer of 2016 and spent three years at Fenerbahce before joining Atalanta, where his contract was terminated by mutual consent after only three weeks. Before returning home to Spartak Trnava last summer, he played for Istanbul Başakşehir in the Turkish Super Lig.
Skrtel, who captained his country during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualification campaign, will be remembered warmly in Merseyside as a player who gave his all regularly and never shied away from a task.
Skrtel is known for his hardness at the back but is also prone to scoring crucial goals. His seven goals in the 2013-2014 season, including two in the Reds’ 5-1 annihilation of Arsenal and the first in the Reds’ 3-2 triumph over Manchester City, attested to his goalscoring ability despite being a defender.