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Former World No.1 and winner of 23 PSA World Tour titles Karim Darwish, the 33-year-old Egyptian, has announced his immediate retirement from professional squash.

The man from Cairo first joined the professional ranks in March 1999 and enjoyed a meteoric rise through the standings, taking just two years to break into the World’s Top 20 at the start of a career that would see him go on to contest 42 tournament finals and compete in 500 world tour matches.

He reached the top ten for the first time in 2003, where he would remain for a combined 118-months, with the crowning moment of his career coming in January 2009 when, after winning the PSA World Series Saudi International in December, upsetting Amr Shabana, Nick Matthew and Gregory Gaultier en-route to the title, he topped the world rankings for the first time.

He held on to the World No.1 ranking for 11-months during 2009, a year which also saw him crowned PSA Player of the Year.

“After a successful 16 year career and achieving most of my goals, starting with winning the World Junior Championship to reaching the top of the World Rankings, I decided to call it a day,” said Darwish.

“I started playing squash at the age of 6, and ever since, squash has been my only passion. I was lucky I had the chance to pursue my dream as a professional squash player, so it’s hard to believe that I won’t be competing at that high level anymore.

“No words can describe how grateful I am to my Mum and Dad, who have always believed in me, my brother, my sole mate who was the reason I played squash, and my wife who was always there for me throughout the ups and downs.

“Of course without my coaches and the support of my sponsors WADI DEGLA, HEAD and RED BULL, I could have never achieved what I have achieved today.”

Darwish also represented Egypt in seven successive World Team Championships since 2001, winning the title twice including in 2011 when he upset the odds to defeat James Willstrop in the deciding match to take the title away from top seeds England.

Off the court, Darwish is married to former women’s World No.11 Engy Kheirallah, with whom he has a two-year-old son called Omar and he is heavily involved as sporting director of the famous Wadi Degla Sporting Club in Cairo, where the 2014 Women’s World Championship will be held this December.

“I’m now the Sports Director at Wadi Degla Club (one of the biggest sporting clubs in the world), who are hosting the Women’s World Championship next December and my new goal is to help squash reach the place it deserves,” he added.

“Finally I’d like to thank my team mates from Egypt – I have enjoyed the success we shared together – and to all other squash players on the PSA World Tour.”

PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough said: “On behalf of the PSA and everyone involved with the professional game I would like to congratulate Karim on a fantastic career and wish him all the best for the future.

“Karim has been been both a tenacious competitor on the court as well as a source of guidance and advice for many young professionals off the court throughout his career and his presence at PSA World Tour events will be missed.”