Demba Ba announces retirement
Written by Dan King
Demba Ba, the former Newcastle United forward, has announced his retirement from football.
Now 36, the Senegalese star spent just 18 months at St. James' Park between 2011 and 2013, but is regarded by many fans as one of the club's best frontmen of recent times.
He arrived on a free transfer after leaving West Ham United, with Alan Pardew taking something of a gamble on his fitness, and it paid off as his goals - fuelled by, he once revealed, his love of strawberry syrup - and his partnership with countryman Papiss Cissé helped the Magpies finish fifth in his only full campaign.
Midway through the following season - after he had scored Newcastle's 1,000th Premier League goal in a 2-2 draw at Everton - Chelsea took advantage of a release clause in his contract to secure his services.
He spent a season-and-a-half at Stamford Bridge before embarking on spells in Turkey and China and earlier this summer, he signed for Swiss top-flight club FC Lugano.
But on Monday, Ba released a statement reading: "It is with a heart filled with gratefulness that I announce the end of my playing career.
"What a wonderful journey it has been. Beside all the sweat and tears I have faced, football has given me so many beautiful emotions. From the passion of the fans and the noise coming from the stands after every goal to the connection with my teammates on and off the field, this will forever remain in my head and heart.
"I wanna thank everyone I've crossed paths with and helped me grow, every club and manager for giving me an opportunity, the fans for their tremendous support and my family and friends for their unconditional love. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU. Praise be to the almighty."