Wesley Sneijder, a Champions League winner under Jose Mourinho, retires from football

Alan Tyers
The Telegraph
Wesley Sneijder celebrates after scoring for Inter vs Pescara in 2012 - AP
Wesley Sneijder celebrates after scoring for Inter vs Pescara in 2012 - AP

Wesley Sneijder, the former Real Madrid and Internazionale attacking midfielder, has announced his retirement from football.

He was a product of the storied Ajax youth system. He got his break when youth coach Danny Blind recommended him to first-team manager Ronald Koeman to fill a gap during a 2002 injury crisis.

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He established himself in the Ajax first team without delay, making 17 league appearances in his debut season. He would go on to appear 180 times in total for the Amsterdam club.

A £23million move to Real Madrid before the 2007-2008 season saw him establish himself as a major talent on the continental stage. Inheriting the 23 shirt from David Beckham, he scored on his debut, against Atletico Madrid, and contributed to the title win in his first term at the Bernabeu.

He was sold to Inter Milan and became a vital part of the Jose Mourinho side that won a 2009-2010 treble of Serie A, the Champions League and the Coppa Italia.

<span>Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands</span> <span>Credit: KOEN VAN WEEL/EPA-EFE/REX </span>
Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands Credit: KOEN VAN WEEL/EPA-EFE/REX

Persistent knee problems saw him step down from the very highest level of club football after a 2012-2013 campaign in which he managed just five league matches.

However, there was plenty more silverware to come for Sneijder in Turkey with Galatasaray, before he finished his club career in Qatar.

At international level, he is Holland’s most-capped player and was a World Cup runner-up in 2010 and a third-place medal holder from 2014.

Short but sturdy and blessed with excellent balance, he was an exciting sight with the ball at his feet. He also possessed a fine range of passing and was genuinely two-footed, with a powerful shot from distance.

He could operate as a second striker or as a winger, and made something of a speciality of operating from a central position but then drifting out wide. His only weaknesses to speak of were an aversion to defensive duties and some bad luck with injuries.

He returns to Utrecht, the city of his birth, for a media role with the club.

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