Defender Hyypia to end playing career

Bayer Leverkusen says veteran Finnish center back Sami Hyypia

will retire at the end of the season and embark on a coaching

career.

Leverkusen said Monday that the 37-year-old former Liverpool

defender will work on qualifying as a coach in his homeland next

season.

He also will become one of three assistants to new Finland coach

Mika-Matti Paatelainen. In addition, Leverkusen said a guest stint

at Liverpool is planned as part of his training.

Starting July 2012, he will then get a two-year contract as an

assistant coach at Leverkusen.

The 1.93-meter (6-foot-4) Hyppia joined Leverkusen in 2009 after

a decade at Liverpool, where he scored 35 goals in 463

appearances.

In 2001, Hyypia helped Liverpool win the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and

League Cup.

He played every minute of 57 consecutive European competition

games for the Reds between November 2001 and February 2006,

including the 2005 Champions League final triumph over AC

Milan.

Hyypia played 105 games for Finland, the last of them in

October.

Leverkusen said it has signed Freiburg’s Omer Toprak on a

five-year contract to replace Hyypia on the pitch. It didn’t give

details of the transfer deal for the 21-year-old German.

Current Freiburg coach Robin Dutt will take over next season at

Leverkusen, currently second in the Bundesliga behind newly crowned

champion Borussia Dortmund. Outgoing Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes

is moving to Bayern Munich.