French club Nice says midfielder Emerse Fae has retired from football at the age of 28 because of an illness.

Fae first suffered from phlebitis, which causes blood clots in the veins of the legs, three years ago and again in March last year. He returned to the team at the start of this season, making four league appearances, but the illness struck again in October.

Nice said in a statement on its website that doctors who assessed Fae ''did not authorize him to continue his football career,'' adding that ''a feeling of deep sadness'' has enveloped the club.

Fae played more than 100 games for Nice and helped it avoid relegation last season. He played 46 games for Ivory Coast and had a short spell in England with Reading.