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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January, 2005, 15:42 GMT
Petit career ended by knee injury
Emmanuel Petit
Petit left Chelsea last summer
Former France midfielder Emmanuel Petit has ended his playing career after failing to recover from knee surgery.

The 34-year-old ex-Arsenal and Chelsea star made the decision before Christmas after realising he would never regain full fitness.

He told French newspaper L'Equipe: "I knew straight away it was over. Twenty years of your life come to a stop. It's like a small death."

Petit had not played since being released by Chelsea last summer.

A key member of the France side that won the 1998 World Cup, Petit scored the last goal in their 3-0 victory over Brazil in the final.

He won the French League title with Monaco in 1997, and the Premiership and FA Cup double with Arsenal in 1998.

Arsene Wenger invited him back to train with the Gunners earlier this season, and at one stage considered giving him a contract.

"Globally I'm very proud of my career," Petit added. "My only regret is having to put an end to my career because of an injury like Marco van Basten or Glenn Hoddle."

Wenger said on Friday: "I think it is a wise decision because he is in a situation where he couldn't come back to a level where he was.

"I know Manu well enough - because I gave him his start when he was 18-years old - to know that he's too proud to walk on the pitch and be the shadow of the player he was.

"Somebody asked me today whether I would be looking to bring in a player of his stature and I replied that you don't find players of his quality available in January."

Wenger, who brought Petit to England from his former club Monaco in 1997, added: "He was fantastic. I feel his home is at Arsenal Football Club.

"We were lucky at Arsenal to have Petit at the peak of the career. He was a tremendous player."

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