Ex-Leeds and Ireland star Ian Harte to become agent after retiring

Former Leeds and Republic of Ireland star Ian Harte has told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview that he is embarking on a new career as an agent after retiring following a 20-year playing career.

Harte, 38, played for seven clubs including Leeds and Sunderland and made over 500 domestic appearances, as well as winning 63 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

The full-back left Leeds following their relegation from the Premier League in 2004 to join Levante, spending three seasons in Spain before returning to England where he played for Sunderland, Blackpool, Carlisle United, Reading and finally Bournemouth as he helped the Cherries win their first ever promotion to the Premier League.

But Harte said he felt it was the right time to retire.

"I turned 38 recently and sometimes you know when the time is right to quit; I feel now is the right time," he told ESPN FC. "I had a few offers from other clubs within the Championship and League One but I'd rather go out on a high after playing for over 20 years.

"I had a magnificent career with so many highs and some lows. Playing for Leeds in the Champions League semifinals, scoring in the quarterfinal against Deportivo and then winning promotion to the Premier League with Reading and Bournemouth.

"Then playing in a World Cup [in 2002] for my country is one of the proudest things you can do as a player and I loved playing for Ireland.

"There was also the lows of seeing Leeds suffer relegation from the Premier League and that was very sad, but that is what football is about the emotions of winning and losing."

Harte has been involved in football since the age of 15 when he moved to England from Drogheda, but the Irishman says he will stay in the game by joining highly respected agent Rob Segal's sports agency, Impact Sports, to pass on his experience to the best young talent in the UK.

"I am really looking forward to the new career path," he added. "I have known Rob for 12 years and he has been great for me. I have a great relationship with him so I am delighted he has been me the opportunity to work alongside him.

"The agency side of things has always been something that has interested me. I have been on the other side as a player and I know the pitfalls that can face players.

"There are so many sharks out there, agents who have never kicked a ball in their lives and who know nothing about the game and who are only thinking about how much money they can make out of their client.

"I will work with the younger players and I will be very hands on as I will be around to give them advice on anything they need."

The defender believes that his experience of playing at the highest level will stand him in good stead and help him mentor some of the game's brightest talents.

"The players earn so much money these days, but they need to be advised what to do with their money as it is a short career at the end of the day," he said. "When they are too old some agents will just forget about them and move on to their next client.

"There are a lot of young players out there who need their career managed properly and I feel I could offer a lot with the experience I have gained throughout my career."