Bayer 04 Leverkusen midfielder Bernd Schneider has been forced to retire at the age of 35 due to a back problem, with Germany national team coach Joachim Löw paying tribute to his "major role in much of our success".
Schneider suffered a slipped disc in April 2008 and has never quite recovered, saying: "This decision was very difficult for me, but I have had problems since the accident and I am following my doctors' advice." It was an unhappy end for a player who dazzled in a decade at Leverkusen, having started his career with his local club FC Carl Zeiss Jena before heading to the BayArena from Eintracht Frankfurt in 1999.
'Schnix' scored 35 goals in 263 games for Leverkusen, as they finished Bundesliga runners-up in 1999/00 and 2001/02 and was also one of the driving forces in the side that battled their way to the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League final, losing 2-1 to Real Madrid CF. Leverkusen general manager Rudi Völler said: "Bernd was a great footballer, who produced magic for Germany and Leverkusen. He is also a very nice and humble person. I wish him all the best."
Schneider also scored four goals in 81 games for Germany, playing in the 2002 FIFA World Cup final defeat by Brazil. He missed UEFA EURO 2008™ through injury. Coach Löw said: "Bernd Schneider was an important player for our team, playing a major role in much of our success. By the 2002 World Cup he also enjoyed great respect from fans. Bernd's playing style and his ability to create surprises in midfield were of enormous importance to the team."
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