Former Italian international and Chelsea midfield player Roberto di Matteo has announced his retirement from professional football.
Triple leg fracture
The 31-year-old Di Matteo has been battling for 18 months to recover from a triple leg fracture suffered during the UEFA Cup first-round match against Swiss side FC St. Gallen on 28 September 2000.
Commenting on his decision to end to his playing career, he told Chelsea's official website: "I have worked hard to try and get back but unfortunately I am still experiencing problems and I have had to face up to the sad decision that my playing days are over. I have loved my time at Chelsea and am glad to have played a part in bringing success to the club and the fans who have always been great to me."
Asked about Di Matteo’s retirement, Chelsea managing director, Colin Hutchinson said: "This is devastating news and we feel for Roberto. He has worked long and hard to try and get back to playing...Not only was he an outstanding player for Chelsea but he is a genuine nice guy. He will rightly have a prominent place in Chelsea's history and we wish him and his family well for the future. He will always be welcome at Chelsea. He is very much part of the club family."
FA Cup honours
Di Matteo signed for Chelsea from S.S. Lazio in July 1996, for €4.9m (a then club record fee). In all he made 155 starts for the club scoring 26 goals. He also scored three FA Cup final goals including Wembley stadium's fastest (43 seconds) and last cup final goals. As well as lifting two FA Cups, Di Matteo also won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (beating VfB Stuttgart in the 1998 final), the UEFA Super Cup (against Real Madrid CF in 1998), the English League Cup and the FA Charity Shield. At international level he earned 34 caps for Italy scoring two goals.
Before moving to England, Swiss-born Di Matteo played 33 matches for FC Aarau scoring one goal. A transfer to Lazio followed where he played 87 Serie A matches from 1993/94 until 1995/96 and scored seven goals.
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