Lizarazu to retire at the end of the season

April 30, 2006

PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) - Former World Cup and European championship winner Bixente Lizarazu said on Sunday he would end his playing career at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old defender, who has been plagued by injuries over the last two seasons, said on French pay-TV channel Canal Plus that he would now work for them as a consultant.

The Bayern Munich defender won 97 caps for France and was a member of their 1998 World Cup-winning squad and of the team who won the European championship two years later.

The energetic left-back, who started his career at Girondins Bordeaux, has played most of his club football for Bayern, joining them in 1997 and returning there in 2005 after a frustrating short spell with Olympique Marseille.

With the Munich club he won five German titles and will probably leave with a sixth, Bayern being five points clear at the top of Bundesliga and in a position to wrap up their 20th title as early as on Wednesday.

Lizarazu also lifted the Champions League with the prolific Bavarian outfit in 2001.

One of the most popular figures of a great generation of French players featuring Zinedine Zidane and all now reaching the end of their careers, Lizarazu retired from international football after France's quarter-final exit from Euro 2004.

Lizarazu is close to Zidane, having played with him at Bordeaux for years before both embarked on glittering careers for prestigious clubs.

Zidane said on Tuesday that he would retire at the end of the season but, unlike Lizarazu, he still plays for France and will call it a day only after their World Cup campaign in Germany.