Michael Ballack has ended his playing career at the age of 36 after being released by Bayer Leverkusen in the summer.

Former Germany captain Ballack, who also played for Bayern Munich and Chelsea, was believed to be in talks with clubs in Australia about extending his career there, but he announced on Tuesday that his appearance in a Leverkusen shirt on May 5 this year was his last.

"At the age of 36, I can look back on a long and wonderful time in professional football," he said in a statement released by his agent Michael Becker. "As a child, I could never have even dreamt of having such a career."

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Michael Ballack