BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's record goalscorer Gabriel Batistuta has decided to quit soccer at the age of 36.
"I'm announcing my definitive retirement from football and I thank everyone who has helped make my career so successful," said the former Fiorentina and AS Roma striker in a statement sent to Argentine media from Qatar on Sunday.
The decision came two days after Batistuta ended his contract with Qatari club Al Arabi following an injury-plagued year in which he played only three matches and failed to score.
Batistuta, who hit 56 goals in 78 internationals, said he was planning to coach in the future.
"I will certainly continue in football in a different role," he added. "I will continue with my contractual, publicity and managerial commitments and finish my studies for coaching."
Batistuta played in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals, his last international goal coming in the 1-0 win over Nigeria in the 2002 World Cup finals.
His Argentina career also produced frustration when he was overlooked for long periods by former coach Marcelo Bielsa, who often preferred Hernan Crespo in attack and would not field the pair together because he said their styles were incompatible.
Batistuta made his professional debut with Newell's Old Boys in 1989. He also spent six months with River Plate before moving to Boca Juniors, becoming one of the few players to play for the two bitter Buenos Aires rivals.
He joined Italy's Fiorentina in 1991 and spent nine seasons there, including one in the second division after he preferred to help the club back to the top flight rather than move elsewhere.
Batistuta joined AS Roma in 2000 and had a brief spell with Inter Milan in 2003 before leaving for Al Arabi.
May 1996: Scores in both legs of Italian Cup final as Fiorentina beat Atalanta Bergamo 3-0 on aggregate to claim their first major trophy in 21 years. It was the only title Batistuta won in his nine years in Florence.
April 1997: Hits superb equaliser in UEFA Cup semi-final in Barcelona. Photos of "Batigol" holding his finger to his lips to silence a 100,000-strong Nou Camp crowd become part of Italian football folklore.
May 2000: Scores hat-trick on final day of season to break Hamrin's Serie A record. Bursts into tears after scoring his third goal in his last match for the Florentines. His final tally for Fiorentina is 168 goals in 269 league appearances.
2001-2002 - Injury and lack of form contribute to a disappointing second season at the Olympic stadium in which Batistuta manages only six goals. His last World Cup ends in sadness as Argentina are knocked out in the first phase. Batistuta confirms his international retirement.
ขอบคุณสำหรับความสุขตลอด10ปีในถิ่นวิโอล่าที่บาร์ติโกล์ได้มอบไว้ให้แก่เหล่าแฟนๆม่วงมหากาฬ และเราก้อเป็นหนึ่งในนั้นที่แอบแบ่งใจมาจากผีแดงเพื่อเป็นสาวกเฉพาะกิจของวิโอล่า....ลาก่อนบาร์ตี้เส้นทางค้าแข้งของนายได้จบลงแล้วแต่เส้นทางชีวิตยังต้องก้าวต่อไป...ถ้าเป็นไปได้อยากเห็นทายาทคนใดคนหนึ่งใน4คนของนายเดินตามรอยเท้าพ่อ...เราคนหนึ่งล่ะจะตามเชียร์...โชคดีจ้า lion king