File photo of Ahly skipper Hossam Ashour (Ahram)
Long-serving captain Hossam Ashour will either leave Ahly or hang up his boots after the Cairo giants told him on Friday that he did not feature in their plans for next season.
Ahly said in a statement that the veteran 34-year-old, a midfield linchpin for nearly two decades and the player who won most titles in the club's history, was informed that Swiss coach Rene Weiler does not intend to rely on him.
Ashour, whose contract runs out at the end of the season, thought Friday's meeting with club officials was to hold talks over extending his deal.
"I was surprised that they told me Weiler no longer needs me," the one-club man, who made over 500 appearances with Ahly, told Egyptian football website FilGoal.
"The club asked me to retire or to look for another offer."
Ashour, best known for closing down spaces and robbing opponents with his acclaimed defensive abilities, was one of Ahly's key players during a glorious era that saw the club dominate domestic and African titles from 2005 to 2013.
He came through the club's youth ranks in 2003 and went on to help them to 12 Egyptian Premier titles, three Egyptian Cups and five African Champions League trophies among other minor accolades.
"I'm shocked by how they dealt with me, I never saw that coming, especially after my long career with Ahly," Ashour added.
"I do not deserve that and I'm not convinced by what they are saying."
Ahly also said they respect the decision of another long-serving member, goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, to leave the club at the end of the season in search of regular first-team football, describing him as one of the team's most committed and disciplined footballers.
Last month, the 36-year-old announced that he would not renew his deal amid reports linking him with a move to Pyramids FC.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)