Al Ahli's Fabio Cannavaro has announced his retirement after doctors said the Italian's injured knee would not allow him to keep playing.
The 38-year-old centre back, who captained Italy to their World Cup victory in 2006, said: "I'm very sad. Football is everything for me in my life."
Cannavaro signed a two-year deal with the top-flight Dubai club in the summer of 2010. His first season was hampered by injuries and Ahli finished lowly eighth in the table.
The Italian was not expected to carry on with Ahli for the 2011/12 season, as the club has signed three foreign players - Brazilian strikers Grafite and Jakson "Jaja" Coelho, as well as Chilean midfielder Luis Jiminez - therefore filling their overseas player limit.
However, Cannavaro will remain in the Emirates and will now take up a role as technical adviser at Ahli.
Cannavaro is the only defender to be voted World Player of the Year, winning in the same year he led Italy to the 2006 World Cup title. He played in four World Cups and is Italy's most capped player after having played 136 matches.
He previously played for Real Madrid and Inter Milan in a 19-year professional career.