Former Arsenal And Barcelona Star Alexandr Hleb Confirms Retirement After 22-Years Of Football Career.

Former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Alexandr Hleb has decided to hang up his boots after more than 22 years of career.

The 38-year-old Belarusian legend started his footballing career at the age of 16 for Belarusian club side Dinamo Minsk.

He completed his transfer to North London in June 2005 for a reported fee of €15million to join Arsene Wengers Arsenal team, and signing a four year contract in the process.

In his 3-years stay with Arsenal, Hleb played a major impact in the Arsenal sqaud, but did not win any trophy with the London team.

His biggest achievement was helping Arsenal to be the first team from London to feature in the final of the Champions League in 2006, where they fell to the almighty Barcelona (2-1) in Paris.

In the summer of 2008, Hleb completed a move to join Pep Guardiola's Barcelona team for a reported fee of €17million which includes add-ons.

With Pep Guardiola taking over during the summer of his arrival, things seemed set for Hleb to form an exciting trident alongside Leo Messi and Thierry Henry, as he won the treble in his first campaign.

His future with the Catalona side became unclear when Guardiola didn't call him up to the squad for the 2009 Champions League final against Manchester United which ended 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in favour of Guardiola's men.

Alexandr Hleb speaking on his retirement to Spanish news agency EFE says;
"I am tired. My body is no longer recovering as before, but I love soccer. As soon as I watch a game on television, I already miss it."

"Arsenal was the happiest stage of my life. Working with Wenger is the best thing that could have happened to me. I appreciated and supported each footballer in a personalized way. He always cared about us. He brought out the best in each player."

"Hleb considers the French coach "the greatest influence" in his career, and that is why it was so difficult for him to leave Arsenal for Barcelona (2008-2009). Precisely, it was Cesc who told him that Barcelona was following in his footsteps."
Wenger admits that he tried to convince him to stay and he believes that decision for him to have left the London side was the biggest mistake of his career, as the football world never came to see the full potential that Hleb had inside due to his failure in the Catalan team.

"It was entirely my fault, not Guardiola's. He did everything possible to quickly adapt me to the country and the group, and to learn the language," he confesses now.

"I acted like a fool myself. The collective was very good. I regret not learning to speak Spanish," added Hleb.

"Guardiola is a great coach, but it is true that he debuted as a first-team coach. He wanted quick successes. When eleven players play at a high level, you no longer want to changes."

"Now I am 38, I can say i had a great football career," he stated.

"I made a couple of mistakes, but I have good memories from all the clubs I played.
"Barcelona were the best team in the world and, at Arsenal, I was very happy, although my biggest regret is not having played any major tournament with Belarus.

"Representing your country in a European Championship or a World Cup is a great honour," he concluded."

Alexandr Hleb scored 50 career club goals and created 103 assist in 640 appearances.

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