ROME, February 26 – Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved has confirmed that he will end his playing career at the end of this season.
The 36-year-old has been a stallwart of the Juve team since joining the club in 2001 as a replacement for the Real Madrid-bound Zinedine Zidane and two years later he won the presitigious Ballon d’Or.
"I’m still enjoying playing but considering my physical and mental condition I understand that the time has come to make way for younger players – they deserve to play," he told the UEFA website following Juve’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League.
"Maybe you think I’m still young but I’m almost 37. I will quit at the end of the season, no matter how well we do in the Champions League or Serie A.
"The decision is final and I don’t think I will change my mind – I don’t need to. It is the right time to quit."
Nedved has had a stunning career both at club and international level where he has won 91 caps for the Czech Republic and was part of the team that lost to Germany in the 1996 European Championship final.
He has won three Serie A titles including one with Lazio, whom he joined from Sparta Prague following Euro 96.
He then went on to win two titles with Juve and play in a Champions League final although he was also part of the Juve teams that were stripped of the 2005 and 2006 Serie A crowns for match-fixing.
Nedved showed his loyalty to the club following that episode by staying put and helping Juve to win Serie B and climb back up to the top flight at the first attempt.
He also won three titles with Sparta, firstly in the Czechosolavkian league and then the newly formed Czech league.
The one thing missing from his trophy cabinet is the Champions League, though, but Juve have a tough task ahead of them in the second round second leg in Turin in two weeks time.
"I would love to finish my career with victory in the Champions League," he said.
"We haven’t got a good result tonight but it’s not over yet. Anything can happen in the return. I think it is 55-45 to them right now. It will be difficult, but not impossible."
As for what the future holds for Nedved, it is not even something he has thought about yet.
"I haven’t talked with Juventus about either a new contract or a role at the club," he added, "However, I think they suspect that I will quit. I have talked a lot with my wife and she is a bit tired too.
"I need to spend more time with my family who have supported me for so many years. For now I will focus on giving my all in the last three months of the season."