SAINTS legend Rickie Lambert has announced his retirement from football.

The 35-year-old striker has been without a club since leaving Cardiff after Premier League spells with Saints, Liverpool and West Brom.

Lambert scored three goals in 11 appearances for England and became a Saints legend after firing the club to double promotions to the Premier League from League One.

The legendary frontman, who was known as Southampton's Goal Machine and was signed for just £1m from Bristol Rovers in August 2009, then helped Saints establish themselves as a Premier League force, before leaving for boyhood heroes Liverpool in the summer of 2014.

He announced his decision to stop playing in a statement on Monday.

It read: "I feel lucky to have been involved in this sport for as long as I have.

"I have had some ups and downs in my career but to have represented clubs like Southampton, Liverpool and playing for my country in a World Cup were beyond my wildest dreams.

"Playing and scoring for England is probably my proudest professional moment and I will look back at every aspect of how I got there with fond memories.

"I would like to thank the fans of all the clubs I played for but especially Southampton where I enjoyed my best years as a footballer and had a special relationship with everyone connected to the club.

"Thank you to all the players I have played with and managers I have played for throughout my career. It was an honour to work with you all.

"Thank you to my family and friends who have been always there for me, especially my gorgeous wife Amy.

"I will be taking a break for a while to spend some quality time with my family just being a husband and father. In the future I hope to give back as best I can to the game that has given me so much."

Lambert, who helped Saints win the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in 2010, netted 117 times in 235 appearances for Saints before making a £4m switch to Liverpool.

After one season at Anfield, he joined West Bromwich Albion for £3m and later went to Cardiff, where his contract was cancelled by mutual consent in the summer.

He'll be remembered by Saints for his eye for goal and incredible penalty-taking abilities, but mainly for being an integral part of the club's fairytale rise back up to the Premier League.