Kevin Grosskreutz to take break after Stuttgart contract terminated
Kevin Grosskreutz, the former Germany international who won the 2014 World Cup, has announced he will put his playing career on hold "for the time being" after he had his contract terminated by Stuttgart.
The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder was hospitalised earlier this week when he was attacked in Stuttgart's city centre while out with players from the club's academy early on Tuesday morning. Images published in German media showed him with a bruised face.
As a consequence of failing to live up to the standards of a role model for the academy players, club and player on Friday signed a mutually agreed contract termination, and at a press conference on Friday afternoon, Grosskreutz seemingly announced his retirement from professional football.
"I would like to apologise to my family and my friends that they worried about me. I am happy that I am still around," Grosskreutz said. "I have to live with it."
He tearfully added: "It's even more important to me to thank all employees, the team and ... the fans from the bottom of my heart. I have always given it my all, and identified with the club.
"A lot has been written, and a lot has been said. I want to quiet down now, and no longer be involved with professional football for the time being. I hope that the press leaves my family and me alone. Please do me that favour."
Also speaking at the news conference, Stuttgart sporting executive Jan Schindelmeiser said: "Although he has been released from his contract, he remains our lad.
"Kevin knows he screwed things up big time. He's a role model, also for our academy players. Kevin no longer is a player of VfB Stuttgart. Yet, despite all of this, we hope that the human factor won't be pushed into the background."
Schindelmeiser added that the incident will also have consequences for the academy players involved, however he refused to comment further citing the agreement signed between player and club.
"Things happened, I can't go into details right now, and I am not allowed to discuss them here anyway."
Grosskreutz played a total of 186 Bundesliga matches, the majority of them for hometown club Borussia Dortmund. He won back-to-back titles with Dortmund in 2011 and 2012, when BVB also won the domestic double.
The versatile midfielder was also a member of Germany's World Cup-winning squad in 2014, although he did not make any appearances during their campaign in Brazil.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.