Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini announces retirement from soccer

Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini has retired from professional soccer after a 22-year career.

The 39-year-old Chiellini’s decision was announced Tuesday by Los Angeles FC, his club for the past 1.5 seasons following 17 years at Juventus. Chiellini also announced his decision on social media, calling his career “the most beautiful and intense journey of my life.”

Chiellini won nine consecutive Serie A titles at Juventus and was named the Italian league’s top defender three times. His club won five Italian Cups and five Italian Super Cups during his tenure at the Turin powerhouse.

Chiellini then played a major role at LAFC, which won the MLS Cup title and Supporters’ Shield in 2022 before reaching the MLS Cup championship game again last weekend, falling to Columbus 2-1. LAFC also reached the CONCACAF Champions League final this year.

“Giorgio is the best defender of his generation and an even better person,” LAFC general manager John Thorrington said. “Giorgio exceeded the incredibly high expectations we had for him both on and off the field. His leadership, professionalism, and character will leave a lasting legacy at LAFC, and we trust that our relationship with Giorgio will continue.”

Chiellini’s retirement was widely expected, even though he remained an effective starting defender at LAFC. He is thought to be considering a new career in coaching or management.

In his social media post, Chiellini wrote that “it is time to start new chapters, face new challenges and write further important and exciting pages of life.”

Chiellini also made 117 appearances for Italy, including two World Cup appearances. He was named the tournament’s top defender when the Azzurri won the European Championship in 2021.

Born in Pisa, Chiellini started his career with Livorno before Juventus signed him in 2004. He spent his first Serie A season on loan at Fiorentina before joining Juventus’ back line in 2005 and remaining there until the summer of 2022.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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