Former Serbia midfielder Paunovic retires

BELGRADE - Former Serbia and Atletico Madrid midfielder Veljko Paunovic announced his retirement on Wednesday after being hampered by a string of injuries. "I have decided to hang up my boots because I suffered with injuries in the first half of the season and there is no point in carrying on," the Partizan Belgrade player told B92 website. "I was not happy with my performances at all and this is the right time to quit because I can neither improve nor play at top level any more." Paunovic scored one goal in two appearances for his country but has not played international football since 2004. Apart from Atletico, the 31-year-old had played for other Spanish clubs and reached the now defunct Cup Winners' Cup final with Mallorca in 1999. He joined Partizan, where he had started his career in 1994, on a two-year deal in July but failed to win a regular first team place with the Serbian league leaders. "Retirement kept crossing my mind in the first half of the season and I have no regrets because the atmosphere in the dressing room is great and these lads have plenty to look forward to," Paunovic said. Partizan are three points ahead of closest rivals Vojvodina Novi Sad at the winter break.