Owen Hargreaves is considering his future in professional football as he takes a year out from the game.
The former Manchester United, Bayern Munich and England international midfielder, 31, is a free agent after leaving Manchester City at the end of last season but despite offers from the lower leagues he is not contemplating playing outside the top-flight.
After suffering from knee injuries for a number of years he admits retirement is an option – an outcome that would allow him to focus on a new career in coaching or punditry.
“There are lots of different paths I can go down,” Hargreaves said. “All the ex-pros have said 'you are too young to retire' but there is a big chapter after football and it might be best to focus on chapter two than hang on to chapter one.
“This year I just took a step back and decided not to play. I am fit, so I understand I may never play again. I am fine with that. You don't get all you want. One thing I won't consider is going down the leagues. I have played Champions League every year of my career so I am not doing that.
Despite becoming synonymous with injury problems Hargreaves insists he has no regrets about his career being cut short.
“I feel blessed. I was privileged,” he added. “Up to the age of 27 I had as good a career as anyone in Europe. Overall, I won two Champions Leagues and five or six titles. I represented England, I played with great players like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and David Beckham.
“It was an honour for me and my family. I have had loads of offers to do different things but it has got to be the right fit with the right coaches.”