Former Morocco captain Medhi Benatia retires from football

Mehdi Benatia
Benatia ended his club career at Turkish side Fatih Karagumruk

Former Morocco captain Medhi Benatia has retired from football, two years after quitting the international game.

Now 34, the central defender has most recently been playing his club football in Turkey for Super Lig side Fatih Karagumruk.

During a 14-year career which started in France, the land of his birth, Benatia represented some of the world's biggest clubs and won four straight titles in a row during spells in Germany and Italy.

He won two Bundesliga titles and a German cup with Bayern Munich and three Serie A championships, two Italian Cups with Juventus, with whom he lost a Champions League final, in 2017.

He also played in the 2018 World Cup and four Africa Cup of Nations for Morocco, for whom he made over 60 appearances.

One of his two international goals sealed his nation's place at Russia 2018 as the Moroccan captain led the way when scoring in a decisive 2-0 qualifying win in Ivory Coast.

"This job has also allowed me to defend and represent my country, Morocco, with whom I have experienced unforgettable moments, the various Nations Cups but in particular the 2018 World Cup," he said on Thursday.

"From a young age I had only one dream, to become a professional footballer," Benatia wrote on social media as he announced his retirement.

"To get there, I had to force myself to work hard, make sacrifices, but above all set new goals at each stage of my career.

"Thank God I had the good fortune to become a professional footballer but as they say in this profession, the hardest part is not to sign your first contract but to last over time.

"After more than 15 years of "good and loyal service" to football, having played in the most prestigious competitions, I have decided to end my career!"

Despite being expelled from prestigious French football academy Clairefontaine one year ahead of schedule, Benatia bounced back in impressive style - calling his dismissal from the school 'fair' as well as being 'like an electric shock'.

Born just south of Paris to a Moroccan father and Algerian mother, Benatia was on the books of Marseille, Lorient, Tours and Clermot in France, also played for Udinese and Roma, where he was named in Serie A's team of the 2013-14 season, in Italy before winding down his career in Qatar and Turkey.

"Throughout my career I have met great people who have allowed me to build myself, which is why I want to pay tribute to all the clubs I have been to," he wrote before listing all 10.

"I would like to thank all those who have supported me for all this time; my parents, wife, children, agent, close friends and you who follow me. They say that the end of one thing is always the beginning of another."

Benatia retired from international football in 2019, shortly after captaining Morocco at the Nations Cup in Egypt where the Atlas Lions lost on penalties to Benin in the Last 16.