Butcher had been on the sidelines for much of the last two seasons
Former England batsman Mark Butcher has retired from first-class cricket because of persistent knee problems.
The Surrey captain, 36, had been struggling with a knee injury since May 2008 and had a third operation to treat the problem last month.
Butcher played 71 Tests for England and represented Surrey for 17 seasons.
"It was a very tough decision to walk away from the club I've called home and the game that has given me so many great memories," said Butcher.
"I feel that it is the right time to move onto the next chapter in my life."
It is always sad when long and distinguished careers prematurely come to an end, but Mark can be very proud of all that he achieved
Surrey professional cricket manager Chris Adams
"I look back very fondly on my 20 years as a player at Surrey, in my opinion the best place to play cricket in the land, and am also very proud to have represented my country.
"I would like to thank all the coaches, players, supporters and administrative staff that have helped me along the way and made the last 20 years incredibly special."
Predominantly a batsman but also an occasional medium-pace swing bowler, Butcher amassed 17,870 runs at an average of 40.70 and took 125 wickets at 33.89 over the course of his career.
He is perhaps best remembered for the 173 not out he scored at Headingley that brought England victory over Australia in the fourth Ashes Test in 2001.
Since making his debut for Surrey in 1992 he has played 182 times for the club, scoring 12,181 runs at 44.45.
He was a part of the successful Surrey side which won three County Championships, the Pro40 League, the Benson & Hedges Cup and the Twenty20 Cup between 1999 and 2003.
Surrey chairman David Stewart added: "On the field Mark Butcher was one of the finest Surrey batsmen I have ever had the privilege to watch and a major contributor to our many successes of recent times.
"Off the field Mark has been the perfect ambassador for the club at all times.
"He has come through our development system to reach the highest level but has never forgotten his roots at Surrey and has constantly played a major role in furthering the club in all areas.
"We wish him the very best in whatever the future may hold and hope he will continue his association with the club for a long time in the future."
Butcher's innings at Headingley, as England chased 315 to secure victory, kickstarted his international career and between 2002 and 2003 he recorded five hundreds to add to his previous three for his country.
As injury problems first started to arise in 2005, he slipped out of the Test reckoning and was appointed Surrey captain.
Butcher's time as Brown Caps skipper, which briefly overlapped with father Alan's stint as coach, coincided with a notable downturn in fitness and less involvement with the first team - he played only five Championship games this season.
2001 Ashes - Butcher stars at Headingley
Surrey professional cricket manager Chris Adams said: "I had the privilege of touring with Mark in 1999/2000 and I got to see first-hand what a fine batsman he really was.
"I also got a glimpse of the man, and that told me that here was a talented cricketer for sure but a cricketer whose attitude and work ethic were of the highest order.
"In the short time that we have had working together I would like to thank Mark for his contribution in what we are trying to achieve in this new era at Surrey.
"It is always sad when long and distinguished careers prematurely come to an end, but Mark can be very proud of all that he achieved.
"My father has always told me that many are called but few are chosen. Mark will be recorded as one of those privileged few and I wish him a long and successful future."
Butcher, also a talented musician, told BBC London 94.9 that he would now spend some time considering his future but the decision to retire meant he could now "move forward".
He said: "The last 12-14 months or so have been very much a case of being 10% focused on trying to get myself back fit and leading Surrey. Once that went pear-shaped for the last time, it was very difficult for me to think of having to go through that again, with no real guarantee of being able to play afterwards.
"Now, making the decision has kind of left the gateway open for me to decide what I'm going to do next without the ifs and buts and maybes."
He added: "I'm happy that I've made a call. I was a long time mulling it over and a long time feeling as though I was in limbo, as if I didn't really know what I was doing. I'm just relieved to have finally got it out in the open."
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