KELTY HEARTS star Steven Bell has said he feels that he "can't get to the performance levels" he expects after announcing his retirement.

The 37-year-old, who joined the club last month having left Partick Thistle in the summer, announced his decision to quit the game on Saturday.

Bell, who started his career with Dundee United before going on to play for Queen of the South, Stirling Albion, Dunfermline, Stranraer, Ayr United, East Kilbride and Thistle, explained that his body was "naturally telling" him that it was time to quit.

In a statement posted on social media, he said: "After a 20-year career in Scottish professional football, I've decided to retire from playing the game I love.

"Over the last couple of seasons, I've reflected on when would be the right time to make this decision, and after talking things through with my supportive wife, Louise, as well as our brilliant boys, Christian and Nicholas, I believe that correct moment is now.

"Despite giving my all this season, I feel I can't get to the performance levels I expect from myself.

"At 37, my body is naturally telling me too."

After signing on at New Central Park, Bell, whose day job is within the social work department at Glasgow City Council, told Press Sport that he had been considering retirement from the game in the summer.

He said at the time: "I had a lot of time off to think about it. I went on a few family holidays, spent time with my kids and my wife. Obviously, I work full-time outwith football, so it's a tough working week, but I just love the game that much.

"You're a long time out the game. A lot of people say that, and I still feel I've got something to offer.

"This isn't my be-all and end-all. My job is. I do this to do the best I can do for any club I'm at, but he (Kelty manager John Potter) has obviously recognised that and, because of my age and stage, he's okay with me not taking days off, but doing my training at home myself."

Bell was part of the Dunfermline side which won the First Division title in 2011 and made four appearances in maroon, which included a goalless draw with Dunfermline, and a 2-0 win over Falkirk, but he continued: "I'm so grateful for the time I've been able to spend at Dundee United, Queen of the South, Stirling Albion, Dunfermline, Stranraer, Ayr United, East Kilbride, Partick Thistle and Kelty Hearts.

"There have been so many team-mates, managers, coaches, physios, other support staff and fans who have been wonderful to know and work with, and I want to say thank you for your contribution to my football career.

"Throughout the last two decades, I've done my utmost to be a good team-mate, captain, worker and friend. I've always tried to be honest and stand up for what I think is decent and right, even if sometimes it's not been the easy option to do so.

"It's my hope that I can take these characteristics into coaching, and we'll see if anything materialises on that side in the coming years.

"Scottish football is great and it's been a pleasure to be involved on and off the pitch.

"I cherished every day of it and would encourage any young pro to do the same."

As well as his title success with Dunfermline, Bell helped Stirling to promotion, and won League One titles with both Ayr and Partick.