Royston Drenthe, former Real Madrid and Everton player, retires from football: 'It's hard to swallow'

Royston Drenthe has announced he is retiring from football for a second time.

The 36-year-old is best known for stints at Real Madrid and Everton during an intensely mercurial and at times controversial career, which has both fascinated and baffled fans.

Until Friday's announcement, Drenthe had been on the books of Dutch amateur club Kozakken Boys. However, he has been deemed surplus to requirements and promptly decided to call it a day.

"The realisation that this is the end is definitely hard to swallow," he told ESPN.

Drenthe made his name as part of the Netherlands team that won the 2007 European Under-21 Championship, where he picked up the player of the tournament award.

That earned a move to Real Madrid but he struggled to nail down a place at the Bernabeu and loan spells at Hercules and Everton followed. A nomadic stretch that took the winger through Russian club Alania, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Turkey's Kayseri Erciyesspor and Baniyas in the UAE led to his initial retirement in 2016.

However, he returned with Sparta Rotterdam two years later and also turned out for Racing Murcia and Real Murcia in Spain amid two spells at Kozakken.

A self-confessed bad boy who struggled to cope with his fame and wealth, he has also enjoyed stints as a rapper, actor, TV pundit, healthcare worker and fashion shopkeeper.

His next career move is still to be decided. He said: "I'll think about that next week. I don't want to become a coach anyway, but something with technical policy, that seems like something to me.

"The focus is now on working for TV. There are some really fun, new projects coming up."