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Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack has announced his retirement from football today, according to BBC Sports. The 36-year-old last featured for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga -- we actually played against him during our Champions League-winning campaign last year -- but before then he spent four years at Stamford Bridge. Despite his relatively short career with us, he was an influential part of the team, making more than 150 appearances in a Chelsea shirt and winning five major trophies during his time in England.
He might be better known, however, for his exploits on the international stage, having captained Germany from 2004 until the 2010 World Cup. It's a shame that his national team career ended in the acrimony that it did, with a falling out between Ballack and coach Joachim Löw the catalyst for some ugly scenes.
That all comes back to the unfortunate injury suffered during his last Chelsea match, the 2010 FA Cup final against Portsmouth, where he suffered an ankle injury following nasty a challenge by Pompey's Kevin-Prince Boateng. For many Chelsea fans, that'll be one of the moments that sticks out most strongly about his time in England. The twilight of his career should have been very different.
No matter what, though, we should feel privileged that such a prodigious talent and leader of the game chose to make Stamford Bridge his home, even if it was for far too short a time.