30 August, 2002
Dundee star Javier Artero spoke today of his heart-breaking decision to quit playing because of multiple sclerosis (writes Tom Duthie).
At a Press conference at Dens Park, the popular Spaniard confirmed he was hanging up his boots because of the condition that first struck him down just over a year ago.
As an immediate response, the club have appointed him their first-ever international scout, a full-time position that will see him travel the world in search of new talent.
Delighted as he was with his new job, however, the 27-year-old admitted this was a sad day for him.
"I had a problem one year ago, and I have tried to come back. I have worked hard, but I do not arrive back at the same level as before one year ago, and it is not fair for me, for my team-mates and for the club to keep playing," he said.
"This is very sad for me, but it is the right decision, and I am happy with the decision I have made."
Artero stressed that in his day-to-day life his health remained good, but he is no longer able to achieve the fitness levels required in the Premierleague.
He could have dropped down to part-time football, and may still play occasionally just for fun, but as a professional he has decided to quit at the top.
"I needed to play again after the problem came, and I have done that. Speaking with the manager and receiving advice, I now think it is the right decision to stop.
"The problem with MS is not my general health. I am perfect for my personal life, but sometimes I have fatigues, and it is hard for me to work and play at this level.
"For me, it is difficult to make the difference I used to and, if I cannot do that on the pitch, I do not think I should play."
Having himself been forced to give up playing for a spell due to injury, manager Jim Duffy understood how hard the past few days have been for Artero.
He backed his decision, and quickly added he would be finding plenty of work for him to do in his new role.
"It is an unbelievably difficult decision to make as a footballer, but health and family are much more important than football," said Jim.
"Since I came here, everyone has told me Javier Artero is a gem of a guy, and I have found that out for myself. He has been honest with himself and the club, and I respect what he has done.
"Now he can look forward to his new job, and he is going to be busy - though hopefully instead of him coming here, I can go across to Spain and see the players he finds in the sunshine."
There was also a glowing tribute to Artero from club owner Peter Marr, who made the formal announcement that the wingerís playing days are over.
"I would like to say that since Javier came to Dundee it has been a pleasure to know him as a person and a player. He has shown that not all foreign players are only here for the money, because he has put his heart and soul into this club."
Dundee will now seek permission from the SFA and SPL to stage a one-off game as a celebration of Arteroís playing career.
And the man himself indicated he would like to pull on a dark blue shirt for that one - if selected.
Meanwhile, Dundee could have a new face in their squad in time for the derby.
The manager was revealing no names today, but confirmed he watched a centre-half in action in England yesterday, and has opened negotiations to sign him.
That means interest in trialist defender Franck Bernhard has been dropped, although there remains a chance that Scots midfielder Garry Brady could still be signed up after he impressed during his trial period.
Veteran Italian defender Marcello Marrocco has left Dens by mutual consent.
"We are now well covered in his position, and I felt it was better to keep room for the younger players coming through, so we have reached a settlement with Marcello," said Jim.
"He leaves Dundee with our best wishes, and he is a genuinely nice person
who has been easy to work with."
© D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd 2000