Former Dutch international and SC Fortuna Sittard goalkeeper Ruud Hesp is to retire at the end of the season.
The 37-year-old returned to Sittard for his second spell at the club in August 2000 after three years at FC Barcelona, but this term they have slumped to the bottom of the Eresdivisie.
Hesp was Louis van Gaal's surprise first official signing as Barcelona coach, as cover for Portuguese international Vítor Baía. But the new man grabbed his chance during pre-season and made the No1 spot his own, establishing himself as a fans' favourite.
Double in first season
He won a Primera División and Spanish Cup double in his first season at Barça and earned himself a call-up as third choice keeper to the Dutch squad for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. His second season saw him in even better form as he saved Barcelona from defeat on a number of occasions.
An indifferent start to the 1999/00 campaign, however, saw him relegated to the bench at the Camp Nou and, despite signing a one-year contract extension, it was clear that he was out of favour when Frenchman Richard Dutruel joined the Catalan club in summer 2000, provoking Hesp's return to the Netherlands.
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