GAIZKA Mendieta has confirmed he will retire from football when his current Middlesbrough contract expires at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old, who last featured in Boro's first team last December, was told to seek new employers as long ago as January.

A mooted move to the United States failed to materialise, and Mendieta has opted to run down the final year of his contract on Teesside despite Boro boss Gareth Southgate repeatedly confirming he was no longer a part of the club's plans.

It had been thought that the Spain international would seek to extend his career in his homeland next season but, instead, a Valencia-based newspaper has confirmed that he will officially hang up his boots in June.

Mendieta will call time on a 17-year career that saw him captain Valencia in successive Champions League finals, make a £32m move to Italian giants Lazio, and help Middlesbrough win the Carling Cup.

Meanwhile, Boro skipper George Boateng is urging his team-mates to take the early initiative when they entertain Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday.

Boro have taken the lead in just three of their 15 games this season, a record that has left them struggling in the relegation zone. And with Arsenal boasting a formidable away record, the Dutchman is aware that a similar story on Sunday could have dire results.

"I'm waiting for the game when we go 1-0 up because that will mean our luck has changed and we're going to win," said Boateng. "Arsenal is a tough game but I look forward to the challenge."