Former England and Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 36.
Cahill, who earned 61 caps and scored five goals for his country, has been without a club since leaving Bournemouth in the summer.
The two-time Premier League winner believes now is the time to hang up his boots.
Cahill exclusively told Sky Sports: “Obviously, it’s been a tough decision in some aspects but I think I just knew the journey had to come to an end at some stage. I just got the feeling that now is the right time.
“I did have options. I could have played in the Premier League with one side and I had a couple of options in the Championship which is flattering to still get the offers.
“But at the moment, as well as my career, my kids are settled at school and it would’ve meant moving again.”
Cahill broke into the England squad during his time at Bolton Wanderers, and earned his first cap against Bulgaria in a 4-0 win in September 2010. In doing so, he became the first Bolton player to play for England since Michael Ricketts in 2002.
“It was huge because at the time, a lot of the England squad were in top teams and I don’t mean that disrespectfully towards Bolton, who took the chance to buy me [from Aston Villa],” Cahill said.
“They put me in the team week-in, week-out and they gave me the platform to learn, make mistakes, grow as a player and grow as a man.”
Cahill is remembered most for his seven years at Chelsea, who bought him for £7m in the 2012 January transfer window. His biggest achievement was being part of the squad that lifted the Champions League in 2012, and he collected eight major honours during his time at Stamford Bridge.
“To be involved in such a successful team was the pinnacle of your playing days,” added Cahill.
“It’s what you strive for when you first start playing to get to the top to try and be involved in a team that can challenge and compete for trophies.
“To be in a changing room with such big figures that were there at the time – the list was huge – players who have gone on and achieved so many great things in the game, coming in as a young player was amazing for me.”
After leaving Chelsea as a free agent in 2019, Cahill joined Crystal Palace for a two-year spell where he made 47 appearances in all competitions under former England manager Roy Hodgson.
The former Bolton and Aston Villa centre-back was unable to reach an agreement on a new contract with the Eagles after weeks of talks in 2021, so he joined Bournemouth on a short-term deal for the 2021/22 campaign.
Cahill did not renew his contract despite making 22 league appearances in the Cherries’ promotion from the Championship – and he is yet to make a decision on whether he will move into management or coaching.
“Everyone is different, and I’m not sure yet what I’ll do. I want to take some time away and step back from football and just enjoy watching it.
“I’m conscious of not diving into something straightaway so I’ll spend some time with the family. I’ll make a decision on the next chapter in my life after Christmas.”