Montana ready to announce his exit

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The Independent Online


The worst kept secret in American sport seems certain to receive its public confirmation next week when Joe Montana announces his retirement from American football.

Montana, the legendary quarterback who guided the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl titles, is expected to formalise his departure from the game he has graced for 16 years with a farewell ceremony in downtown San Francisco. It will be followed by a gala lunch to be attended by team- mates and officials from the 49ers and his current club, the Kansas City Chiefs.

The marketing company IMG, which has represented Montana for many years, is organising the events, which will take place early next week, probably on Tuesday. "It's one one of those things I have to sit back and look at," Montana said, although he would not confirm details.

Montana, now 38, was perhaps the sport's greatest figure in the 1980s, and was certainly its best known. Keen-eyed and apparently unflappable, his ability to locate an open receiver was the defining ingredient in the brilliant 49er teams fashioned by their then head coach, Bill Walsh.

Injury kept him from the game for two years in the early 1990s, an absence which allowed his back-up, Steve Young, to establish himself as the 49ers play-caller. All the same there was uproar among the Bay Area faithful when the club allowed Montana to join the Chiefs in 1993. For the Chiefs Montana has performed impressively, without ever quite recreating the invincible air he had with the 49ers. His most memorable performance for the Chiefs came in a rousing victory over the 49ers last September, but once they were eliminated in the first-round of this year's play-offs the speculation began that Montana would not return.

With many lucrative endorsements to his name, Montana need never work again, but it is being suggested he will join NBC as an analyst, or possibly work as a spokesman for the NFL.