Abidal retires for 'strictly personal reasons'

Former France international defender Eric Abidal announced his retirement on Friday for "strictly personal reasons". But the 35-year-old former Barcelona star, who returned to playing football after undergoing a liver transplant, told an emotional press conference: "I am open to proposals." Holding back the tears, he added: "I do not regret my decision. I just want to rest now, enjoy my family and then to think about my future."

He said he had received offers from both Barcelona and Olympiakos, but made no mention of press reports that he would take up a post coaching Barcelona's youth teams. Abidal is listed in the line-up for Saturday's crucial Greek Super League match with Kalloni on the island of Mytilene as Olympiakos have injury problems in defence and do not have a second central defender.

"I think this will be my last match," Abidal said. Abidal joined Olympiakos six months ago on a two-year contract, played in eight out of 14 Super League matches and all six Champions League fixtures. "This is a big and difficult moment in my life as today I officially end my professional career with Olympiakos," Abidal said at the start of the press conference. "My time has come."

Abidal also thanked all the coaches and teams that he played with throughout his career "and I will remember them always in my mind and heart". He spent six years with Barcelona but left in 2013 after recovering from the transplant but was not offered a new contract. Abidal was first diagnosed with a liver tumour in March 2011 but remarkably he played the whole of the Champions League final against Manchester United two months later which Barca won 3-1.

A year later he underwent the transplant. Capped 67 time by France - he played in all bar one of the games in the 2006 World Cup finals where the French reached the final only to lose in a penalty shoot-out to Italy. He spent last season with Monaco before moving to Olympiakos. Olympiakos Strategic Advisor and former France international player Christian Karembeu, said the club "respected the decision" taken by Abidal and that he had given the team "a lesson of life. He belongs to our family, our house is open to receive him whenever he wants".

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014