Roberto Carlos to leave Real at end of season

MADRID (Reuters) - Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos has said he will leave Real Madrid at the end of the season after 11 years at the club.

In this file photo Real Madrid's David Beckham is congratulated by Roberto Carlos after scoring against Sevilla during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville December 9, 2006. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

“I’m not going to renew my contract. I think the moment has come for me to put an end to my time at the club and leave them to start a new project,” the 33-year-old told sports daily Marca on Friday.

“I’m sure about it. My time at Real Madrid has ended. After three years without winning anything I had to take a decision.”

The former Brazil international said he had not yet decided where he would continue his career.

“I don’t know whether I will continue in Europe or maybe I need to be back in Brazil close to my family.”

With Real due to play arch-rivals Barcelona in the Nou Camp on Saturday, coach Fabio Capello was annoyed the player had chosen this moment to make public his decision.

“It wasn’t news to me. Obviously it wasn’t a good moment to say this but everyone has the right to say what they want, when they like,” the Italian told a news conference on Friday.

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Roberto Carlos joined Real Madrid from Inter Milan in 1996 during Capello’s first spell as coach at the club.

Since then he has been a fixture in the team, winning three European Cups, three league titles and two World Club Cups during his time at the club.

He has made more appearances for Real than any other foreign-born player and has been a prolific goalscorer despite being a defender, notching up 45 league goals and a total of over 60 in all competitions.

He quit international football after Brazil’s 1-0 World Cup quarter-final defeat by France last year.

He picked up a calf injury during Real’s 2-1 defeat at Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday and will be out of action for between three and four weeks.

He has been widely blamed in the Spanish press for being at fault in Bayern’s first goal in that game when he miscontrolled a ball allowing the Germans to break and score after just 10 seconds.

Real signed another Brazilian Marcelo to provide cover for Roberto Carlos in the January transfer window and youth team defender Miguel Torres has also filled in at left back in recent games.

“My departure will help the youngsters like Marcelo and Miguel Torres,” he said. “They are the future and have to be given a chance to develop. I have to look for motivation in another team, another country, another place.”