Athletic Bilbao's Aritz Aduriz celebrates scoring their first goal from the penalty spot during the match against Hertha BSC Berlin in Bilbao, Spain, in this Nov 23, 2017 file photo. (Photo: Agencies)
MADRID - Athletic Club Bilbao's veteran striker, Aritz Aduriz, has announced his retirement from the game with immediate effect.
The 39-year-old announced his decision in a communique in which he said, "Sometimes football leaves you, before you leave it," and explained doctors had told him he needs a hip replacement operation.
Aduriz had said in September that he would hang up his boots at the end of the season, but he will now miss the last 11 games of the campaign, as well as the final of the Copa del Rey which will see Athletic play Real Sociedad at a yet to be confirmed date.
"Sadly, my body has said 'enough,'" explained the striker, who 172 goals for Athletic in 405 appearances for the club, who he represented in three different stages of his career.
Nicknamed 'the Fox', he also played for Burgos, Valladolid, Mallorca and Valencia and represented Spain on 13 occasions.
Aduriz only scored one goal this season, but his last goal was arguably the best of his career: a spectacular 89th overhead kick to give Athletic a 1-0 win at home to FC Barcelona in the opening game of the season.