Fabio Cannavaro, who led Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, announced his retirement from football at the age of 37 because of a nagging knee injury.
Cannavaro, who will remain with current club Al-Ahli, in Dubai, on the management staff, said: "The cartilage has given way.
"I tried to get it better during the holidays but when I realised that I felt pain after a simple jog, I understood that I could go on no longer.
"I'll stay at Al-Ahli for three more years as adviser," added the 136-time capped Italian, the only defender to have been voted World Player of the Year.
Cannavaro started his career in 1992 with home club Naples, before moving to Parma (1995-2002), Inter Milan (2002-4), Juventus (2004-6), Real Madrid (2006-9), and then back to Juve for one season before joining Al-Ahli.