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Bayer Leverkusen brothers Lars and Sven Bender will retire from football at the end of the season.

The two 31-year-olds confirmed on Monday that 2020-21 will be their last campaign in senior football.

In a statement, they said the decision was motivated by “health and family”, saying: “Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for us to perform consistently at that level because of all the pain and physical problems, which are affecting us more and more.”

“This decision has been anything but easy not least because of the honest, fair and understanding relationship with the Leverkusen club management in the past and right up to today. Bayer 04 now have time to plan and that was important to us.

“Of course, we’ll do all we can to write a successful final chapter here at Leverkusen by ending a very successful season to date with the achievement of our ambitious targets.”

Sporting director Rudi Voller said: There are few players in the Bundesliga like Lars and Sven. They represent football class, extreme professionalism and absolute reliability plus determination and commitment.

“We need their qualities in the remaining six months to achieve our big targets. Exactly that ambition is evident in both of them who always give 100 per cent right to the end. And regarding Lars, I’ve hardly seen another player at Leverkusen who has identified so much with Bayer 04. We owe Lars a huge amount of gratitude.”

Lars Bender joined from 1860 Munich in 2009 and has been captain of Leverkusen since 2015.

Sven signed in 2017 after eight successful years at Borussia Dortmund, where he won two Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokals, two DFL-Supercups and reached the Champions League final in 2013.

They have 17 senior caps for Germany between them and were part of the silver-medal-winning side at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Leverkusen, whose 2-1 loss at home to Bayern Munich on Saturday ended their unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season, are two points behind the champions at the top of the table.

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December 21, 2020
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