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Injury forces Laursen to call it a day

ASTON Villa captain Martin Laursen announced his retirement yesterday because of a long-standing injury to his right knee.

The popular 31-year-old Danish defender, who joined the Premier League club from AC Milan in 2004, said he could not really believe he was sitting in front of journalists announcing his decision.

"It is so weird, so strange sitting here making this announcement that I am not going to be able to play football anymore," he said.

"Five months ago I was flying, I was on top of my game," he added.

"But I can't recover from my injury - so I've got to retire. I've spent a while making up my mind, thinking about things. Deciding whether I wanted to go ahead with an operation and see if I could come back or whether I should retire.

"It would have been a big and difficult operation. At this point, I think it's better for my health and future life to say: 'That's it.'

He played every Premier League game last season and the first 18 league games of this season until he suffered his latest injury against West Ham in December. But he has suffered long spells out of the side, managing only 91 appearances for Villa. However his outstanding defensive qualities - and his eye for the occasional goal - endeared him to the Villa fans. "The retirement of the lionheart defender will be a huge loss to the players, the manager and the fans," Villa said on it's Website.


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