Former Greece central defender Traianos Dellas has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 36.
A gold medallist at UEFA EURO 2004, the tall Dellas conceded that his time was up as he brought an end to his third spell at AEK Athens FC. "I would like to have carried on, but my body would not let me," he said. "I am happy with everything I accomplished in my career. I always treated my opponents with respect and my principles were not compromised by my time in the world of football."
Dellas started his career with hometown club Aris Thessaloniki FC, and played abroad with Sheffield United FC, AC Perugia, AS Roma and Anorthosis Famagusta FC, signing for AEK for the first time in 1999. Nicknamed 'Colossus' by UEFA EURO 2004-winning coach Otto Rehhagel, he was capped 53 times, scoring his only international goal in the semi-final of that competition to eliminate the Czech Republic.
Goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis, who played alongside Dellas in Portugal, said of his old team-mate: "The first time I saw him, I felt safe. For a man of his size, he had impressive ball skills and he applied his intellect when he didn't have the ball. He could read opponents' play and anticipate their next moves." Dellas now intends to pursue a career in coaching, and is already studying for his official badges.
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