Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has announced his retirement, ending a sparkling 18-year career in the NFL.
Manning struggled to hold back tears as he confirmed the news at a media conference in Denver on Monday.
He said: “I fought a good fight. I finished my football race. After 18 years it is time.”
Manning, who turns 40 on 24 March, played his last game when he helped the Broncos win the Super Bowl in February.
It was his second Super Bowl win, the first coming in 2007 during a 14-year spell with the Indianapolis Colts.
One of the game’s most prolific passers, he was voted the NFL’s most valuable player a record five times.
Manning retires as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns (539), passing yards (71,940) and quarterback wins (186, tied with Brett Favre).
His teams made the play-offs in 15 of his 18 seasons.
“You don’t have to wonder if I will miss it. Absolutely I will,” Manning added.
“There are players who were more talented – but none could out prepare me. I have no regrets.”
‘Perfect way to end a career’
One of his biggest rivals, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, said Manning “set the standard for how to play the quarterback position”.
He told Sports Illustrated: “What just happened, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, is a perfect way to end a career. But what he’s accomplished through all these years, what makes it so admirable, is the pressure he’s had on him his whole life.
“Who has lived up to the expectations year after year after year as well as Peyton? He’s done it so gracefully, so admirably.”
Recently, Manning has also faced controversy. Before this year’s Super Bowl, the NFL began an investigation into allegations that banned substance human growth hormone was sent to his house when he was recovering from neck surgery in 2011.
He has described the allegations, made by broadcaster Al Jazeera, as “complete garbage”.
During his retirement news conference, he also denied allegations of sexual misconduct stemming from his college playing days at Tennessee.
“I did not do what has been alleged and I am not interested in re-litigating something that happened when I was 19,” he said.
In defeating the Carolina Panthers on 7 February, Manning became the oldest quarterback to win the showpiece event – and the first starting quarterback to win it with two different teams.
It had been rumoured the surprise 24-10 victory would be his last game, but he said afterwards he would “take time to reflect”.