Marek Jankulovski retires from professional football

Veteran decides to hang up his boots in his mid-30s after winning his first Scudetto with AC Milan but rules out a career in football coaching

Marek Jankulovski has drawn the curtain on his playing career at the age of 34 after winning the Serie A title with AC Milan.

The former Czech Republic international bows out of the game after appearing 158 times for Milan, whom he joined from Udinese in the summer of 2005 and helped them win the Champions League two years later.

Jankulovski scored four goals for the Italian and European giants, and also won the Club World Cup and the European Super Cup in 2007.

In an interview recorded with Milan Channel earlier this week Jankulovski reflected on Massimiliano Allegri’s side’s title-winning 2010-11 campaign and said: “We had a very deep squad this season, there were 31 players, while only 11 could play at a time.

"It wasn’t easy to make everyone play, so some inevitably had to sit out, but the important thing was to keep everyone involved, let it be a starter, a substitute or someone who watched the games from the stands.

“During the week we trained serenely, while at the weekend the coach had to make his choices. In any case, those who had to go the stands, rooted for their teammates. It was nice to get back to action. The season started in late August, but I practically didn’t play until February.

“I already gave up hope when I had the chance to play against Napoli. The match against the Azzurri went very well and for me it was almost like playing my first game for Milan, even if I had already spent six years here. I was happy like a child.”

The versatile veteran, who could play either as a left-back or as a left-winger, also looked back on his career with Milan and spoke about the most beautiful moments.

“The first one was when I put on the Milan shirt for the first time, thus realising my dream of playing for the best team in the world,” Jankulovski enthused. “And then obviously the final in Athens [a 2-1 win against Liverpool in Champions League final] is unforgettable, but even the Supercup final [a 3-1 victory over Sevilla], in which I even got on the scoresheet. For me, playing for Milan was a dream come true.

“Coming to Italy from the Czech Republic was a big thing, not everyone has the chance to do it. And I lasted 11 years, six of which I spent at Milan [the other five were spent with Napoli and Udinese], playing lots of games and being part of many victories. The beginning was not easy, but then everything was marvelous.”

He added: “Italy is my second homeland now, as is Milan my second home, but things come to an end. Fortunately, the memories remain and looking back on what I accomplished I realise all the great things I could do at Milan.”

The former Napoli and Udinese player then spoke about life after football and ruled out a career in coaching.

“I don’t know, but I definitely won’t begin a coaching career,” said Jankulovski. “I wouldn’t mind working as a sports director or maybe as an agent to work with young lads and give back to football.”

Jankulovski started his professional club football career with Banik Ostrava in 1994 and played for the Czech team for six years before joining Napoli. He then moved to Udine and after spending three years from 2002 and 2005 at Udinese, signed for Milan.

Jankulovski played for the Czech Republic national football team between 2000 and 2009, scoring 11 goals in 77 caps.

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