(Reuters) – Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement on Thursday after a decorated 18-season NFL career during which he won two Super Bowl championships.
The 39-year-old Roethlisberger, a tough-as-nails competitor who was the heart and soul of the Steelers offense, retires as the longest-tenured player in franchise history.
“The journey has been exhilarating, defined by relationships and fueled by a spirit of competition,” Roethlisberger said in a video posted to his Twitter account.
“Yet the time has come to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats and continue to be all I can be to my wife and children. I retire from football a truly grateful man.”
Roethlisberger, who had hinted at retirement during the season, finishes his NFL career fifth all time in yards passing (64,088), completions (5,440) and eighth in touchdowns (418).
He was selected by the Steelers with the 11th pick of the 2004 NFL Draft and quickly made an impression as he won the first 13 starts of his debut season en route to being named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
With Roethlisberger at quarterback, the Steelers made the playoffs 12 times, appeared in five AFC Championship games and went to three Super Bowls, winning two of them.
Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback, at 23 years old, to ever win a Super Bowl when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks in the February 2006 championship game.
“I don’t know how to put into words what the game of football has meant to me and what a blessing it has been,” said Roethlisberger.
“While I know with confidence I have given my all to the game, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all it has given me.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)