Dimitar Berbatov has announced his retirement from football, saying: "I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!"

The 38-year-old former Manchester United, Tottenham and Bayer Leverkusen striker played his last game for Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League in February 2018.

He announced his retirement on the ninth anniversary of his hat-trick for Manchester United in a memorable 3-2 win over rivals Liverpool.

After starting his career at CSKA Sofia, Bulgarian Berbatov made a name for himself in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen and then enjoyed success in the Premier League with Spurs.

United paid £28million to take him to Old Trafford in August 2008 and he won two Premier League titles with the club, before going on to play for Fulham, Monaco, PAOK and Kerala.

In a post on his Instagram account, Berbatov said: "My last game was more than one year ago, so I think it's the right time now to stop and it's long overdue!

"Although when I think about it, it's never The End, because I will stay in the game in one way or another, the time has come to say that after almost 20 years playing football I am stopping with my professional ACTIVE football career!

"I will miss it! I will f***ing miss it! Everything! The games, trainings, the goals, preparations, the pressure, my teammates…the roar of the fans when I scored another banger.

"I was blessed and work hard to have the opportunity to play with one of the best ever and against some of the best ever! And coming from small country this makes it even more special for me!"

Berbatov reflected on the ups and downs of a career that included three Champions League final defeats – one with Leverkusen and two with United.

His most prolific spell came in Germany, where he netted 91 goals in 202 matches for Leverkusen, but he won his only league titles at United, along with the League Cup, the Community Shield and the FIFA Club World Cup.

He also netted 48 goals in 78 appearances for Bulgaria to become the country's all-time leading scorer before retiring from international football in 2012.

"I had my highs and of course some lows in my career, won my fair share of trophies, scored some goals along the way as well!" said Berbatov.

"I played the way I wanna play, and I scored the goals I wanted to score!

"Thank you to all the people who helped me develop, and became the player I always wanted to be!

"Thank you to all my former teams, my teammates and my coaches and staff! It was a pleasure! I know at times I was not easy to work with, but I always gave my everything for the teams I played for!

"I hope you all have enjoyed my game, and everything I gave to entertain you on the pitch!"

Manchester United's players must "be f***ing better" if they are to put last season's forgettable campaign behind them, according to their former striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men won only one of their final seven Premier League matches in 2018-19 to finish down in sixth place.

That terrible run started with a 2-1 loss to Wolves at Molineux in April, having also suffered a 2-0 defeat at the same ground in the FA Cup quarter-finals the previous month.

However, United started the new season in a positive manner with a 4-0 win against Chelsea last weekend and Berbatov hopes lessons have been learned ahead of Monday's return to Molineux.

"There's only one thing I'd like to see - a better performance than last season," he told the Daily Star. "The way we finished was disappointing.

"So, this season hopefully they can perform better. Not only one player but everybody as a group.

"They must say to themselves, 'OK, we need to be f***ing better'."

Including a penalties win over AC Milan, United enjoyed a clean sweep of victories during pre-season, with new signings Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James both impressing.

Berbatov, who spent four seasons at Old Trafford, wants to see that winning run continue in the Premier League.

"When I saw them [against Inter] in Singapore, what I saw impressed me," he said of the younger players in Solskjaer's squad. "But friendlies are different to Premier League games.

"Sometimes you play more freely in friendlies because there's no pressure. But when the season starts, the nerves start working. Negative thinking starts - but it needs to stop."

Dimitar Berbatov feels criticism of Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku is unfair and hopes the Belgian stays at Old Trafford.

Lukaku joined United from Everton in a £75million deal in 2017, scoring 28 goals in 66 Premier League games since then, but his performances have been much maligned.

The former Chelsea man has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes up his United squad ahead of the new season.

But Berbatov, who played under Alex Ferguson for four years at United, would prefer to see Lukaku remain at the club.

"I hope Lukaku is staying because he's a good player and the criticism he's facing is not fair," he told the Straits Times.

However, Berbatov believes United would have the firepower to cope with Lukaku's departure, backing Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford for big seasons.

"I am calm because I like Martial a lot," he said. "I used to play with him in Monaco a lot and I know that he is really good and that he can be even better.

"I like Rashford as well; he can develop and become even better."

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