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Israel goalkeeper Aouate announces retirement

Israel will head into the European Qualifiers without their No1 for much of the last decade and a half after goalkeeper Dudu Aouate, 36, hung up his gloves.

Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying
Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying ©Getty Images

Israel's No1 for much of the last 15 years, Dudu Aouate has hung up his gloves, declaring: "I've achieved all of my goals."

It was October 1999 when, a week shy of his 22nd birthday, Aouate made his international bow in a 3-0 defeat in Spain in UEFA EURO 2000 qualifying. He had only established himself in the Hapoel Haifa FC first team the previous season, beginning the campaign as Avi Peretz's understudy and ending it as a key member of the championship-winning team.

He joined Maccabi Haifa FC, winning another title and savouring the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2002/03, the highlight a memorable 3-0 victory over Manchester United FC. The following summer he moved to Real Racing Club, and he has been in Spain ever since. In spells in Santander, at RC Deportivo La Coruña and RCD Mallorca he made more than 300 Liga appearances.

"I've had the honour of playing in the Spanish league," the 36-year-old said on Friday. "I've learned what top European football is about, playing at the Camp Nou and the Bernabéu. I have mixed emotions as after many years on the pitch I retire today from football. It's hard to sum up all of these years in few words."

Aouate bows out with 78 international caps to his name, and Israel will head into the European Qualifiers without the man who captained them through 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. His close friend Yossi Benayoun has the last word, saying: "My brother, this is a hard moment for me. You are a great keeper and I've enjoyed every moment we have had together, on the field and off."

Israel kick off UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying at home to Belgium on 9 September.