Former Holland attacker Rafael van der Vaart has announced his retirement from football with immediate effect. The 35-year-old signed with Esbjerg in August but has been plagued by injury, only seeing a total of 55 minutes in the Danish Superliga.
And the 109-times capped by the Orange, Van der Vaart who also played for Ajax, Hamburg, Real Betis, and Midtjylland, says he cannot play on.
The former Real Madrid and Tottenham made his senior debut for Dutch side Ajax just at the tender age of 17 and went on to make 117 appearances for them.
He scored 52 goals. In 2005, he moved to Germany, to Hamburg FC, where he made a name for himself, scoring 30 goals in just 74 appearances.
“I just have to stop now. I’m not here to rehabilitate, but to play football,” Van der Vaart told De Telegraaf.
“I would have wanted to become a football grandpa, but that is not the case. I can only be grateful for all the years I was allowed to play football, all those players, staff, fans of the [Amsterdam] Arena, Volksparkstadion, White Hart Lane, to the Bernabeu.
“I just have warm feelings about it. It was a great time.
“I won prizes and played championships, both with my clubs, the Dutch national team and individually.
“In all those years, I have been able to play football with and against so many great players in the most beautiful stadiums. I had never dared to dream of that as a young boy.”
After spending three seasons in Germany, he signed for European heavyweights Real Madrid. All wasn’t rosy at Madrid since he only made 58 appearances, scoring only 11 times.
His Los Blancos career didn’t last long and two seasons later, he signed for Tottenham Hotspurs in England. For Spurs, he scored 24 times in 63 appearances. He called time on his stay at Spurs in 2012 and moved back to Hamburg.