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SINGAPORE: Former Singapore national football team captain Shahril Ishak announced his retirement from the sport at age 39 on Tuesday (Feb 21).

Shahril wrote on his Instagram page that coming to the decision “hasn’t been easy” and he “didn’t want this time to come”.

“Everything has a beginning and an end. After 19 years I made the decision to end my career as a professional football player,” he said.

Shahril last played for Hougang United in the Singapore Premier League and won the Singapore Cup with them last season.

Local teams he previously turned out for include the Young Lions, Home United, Lions XII, Warriors FC and Lion City Sailors.

He also had overseas stints – in Malaysia for Johor Darul Ta’zim II, and in Indonesia for Persib Bandung and Medan Chiefs.

“(I would like to thank) the coaches, backroom members, fans, team-mates, both past and present for their support throughout the years. 

“Their hard work behind the scenes has played a part in helping me to achieve much success over the past decade,” he said.

Making his professional debut with the Young Lions in 2003, Shahril earned his first international cap the same year.

He is the third-most capped Singapore footballer with 138 appearances.

His last match for the Lions came in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship in 2018 against the Philippines.

He was part of three AFF Championship-winning teams, in 2004, 2007 and 2012.

“Playing for and captaining my country was something I had always dreamed of and it was such a great honour,” he said.

Shahril also picked up plenty of individual achievements on the pitch.

In 2010, he won the S-League Player of the Year crown.

He was named the Most Valuable Player when he captained Singapore to the 2012 AFF Championship, and picked up the AFF Player of the Year gong in 2013.

He also captained the LionsXII to the Malaysia Super League title in 2013.

“I’m looking forward to my next steps … But now, it’s time to make an impact on the game off the pitch,” he said.

“Till then, thank you all for helping me fulfil my dream. It was a beautiful journey,” Shahril said.