Acho Monreal, the popular former Arsenal defender, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 36.
The Spanish left-back has officially hung up his boots and ended a 16-year professional career, having been released by Real Sociedad after his contract at Anoeta expired earlier this summer.
Monreal missed the entire 2021-22 La Liga season with a serious knee injury, having played 69 games for the Basque side after leaving Arsenal in a £225,000 deal in 2019.
After starting his career at Osasuna and playing for Malaga, he first joined the Gunners in January 2013 for around £10m and then spent six and a half years at the Emirates Stadium as a transfer success from increasingly rare from the later of Arsène Wenger. years at the helm of North London.
Praised for his versatility which also allowed him to operate comfortably in central defence, Monreal made 251 appearances in all competitions in total for Arsenal, scoring 10 goals and providing 20 assists. He was part of the team that won three FA Cups between 2014 and 2017, starting with two finals at Wembley.
He also lifted the community shield three times and finished runners-up in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, with the Gunners eventually deciding to sign Scotsman Kieran Tierney from Celtic as his long-term replacement.
Monreal, who also won 22 senior international caps for Spain between 2009 and 2018, announced his retirement in a stylish Instagram video, revealing his troublesome knee was no longer up to the rigors of professional football.
“36 years playing football,” he wrote. “16 as a professional. Squeezing my body and taking it to limits I never imagined.
“My knee is sending me a message…loud and clear; I can not continue ! Am I going crazy? NOPE! I listen to him and I accept the situation and I thank him for everything.
“One step is over. Another starts. I am happy and I feel good. Once again… I FEEL GOOD!!! And that reassures me.
“Life is a gift and I like to be grateful. Thank you @caosasuna @rfef @malagacf @arsenal @realsociedad for letting me cross your paths. What great years…”
Arsenal have paid tribute to the Monreal retiree with a tribute video of his own, highlighting some of his best moments in a red and white shirt as well as the colorful off-field personality that made him such a popular figure. They titled the video “La Cabra,” which means “the goat” in Spanish.