Bayer Leverkusen skipper Simon Rolfes announces retirement

Bayer Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes has announced he will be retiring at the end of the season.

The 32-year-old made the announcement after Leverkusen's 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on Saturday evening, making his decision public now to allow his club to plan for the future without him.

"I am fit and healthy and this is a good time for me to announce the end of my career so that the club can make plans,'' he told Sky television, adding that he will be leaving the game of football entirely when he hangs up his boots.

"I am going to become a freelance career manager.''

Rolfes has played a total of 353 times in the Bundesliga for Leverkusen, having joined the club in 2005.

He was capped 26 times by Germany and was part of their squad at Euro 2008, although a knee injury ruled him out of the 2010 World Cup and, two years later, he was overlooked by Joachim Low for his Euro 2012 squad.

Leverkusen do not need to look too far to find a replacement, though, with Germany international Christoph Kramer due to return to them at the end of a two-year loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer.