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Premier League veteran Louis Saha announces retirement

Vatican Pope

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis receives a personalized jersey from Lazio’s Louis Saha, right, as Lazio President Caudio Lotito looks on, at the end of his weekly general audience at St. Peter Square at the Vatican Wednesday, May 22, 2013. (AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, ho)

AP

After a 16-year professional career that spanned eight clubs and three countries, French striker Louis Saha announced his retirement on his 35th birthday on Thursday. He was at the end of his short-term contract with Serie A club Lazio, where he made six appearances since February.

In May, Saha presented Pope Francis with a personalized Lazio shirt after the pope spoke at St. Peter Square at the Vatican (pictured).

Like most news in the modern age, Saha’s announcement came on Twitter. In a series of three tweets, he thanked everybody involved with his career and hoped out loud that many young players could enjoy the sport as much as he has:

Want to thks all managers,all staffs,all teammates,all opponents,all fans,for all support and love towards me during my football career.....

— louis saha (@louissaha08) August 8, 2013


I’m a proud man but without you all I won’t be myself now. Thx for the challenges thx for the help thx for the memories thx for the passion

— louis saha (@louissaha08) August 8, 2013


I will stop to be call a professionnel footballer and wish many young talent to enjoy as much as me my football. Love you and thx again.

— louis saha (@louissaha08) August 8, 2013


A product of France’s famed Clairefontaine academy and the Metz youth system, Saha made his first senior appearance in 1997. In 1999, he got a taste of the Premier League, on loan to Newcastle United from Metz, scoring a goal in the FA Cup fifth round.

In 2000, he signed with Fulham, making a permanent move to England. He spent three and a half seasons in West London, making 117 appearances and scoring 53 goals in all competitions. It was at Fulham that Saha began to turn heads.

Halfway through the 2004-05 season, Saha had 15 goals to his name. Manchester United made a bid for him, and he moved to Old Trafford for £12.4 million. He scored on his debut against Southampton, and it seemed the best was yet to come for Saha.

He made France’s 2006 World Cup squad, appearing three times as a substitute, including in the semifinal against Portugal, where he picked up his second yellow card of the tournament and thus was suspended for the final, which France lost to Italy.

Injuries started to take their toll. He won the Premier League twice and the UEFA Champions League once in his time at Old Trafford, but he missed multiple games in each of his remaining seasons with the Red Devils before moving to Everton in 2008. Although his best years were behind him, Saha kept scoring goals.

He stayed at Everton for four years before signing a six-month deal at Tottenham Hotspur. Then, he spent half a season at Sunderland and Lazio before calling it quits on a lengthy career.

Follow @liviubird