Michael Strahan holds the NFL record for most sacks in a season. ((Craig Ruttle/Associated Press) )

Defensive lineman Michael Strahan is going out on top, retiring from the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Strahan told Foxsports.com of his decision on Monday and the Giants later confirmed they had been told that the end would be retiring.

Strahan, who turns 37 in the upcoming season, said he wanted to make a decision before training camp began in earnest.

"I knew it was going to [eventually] happen," quarterback Eli Manning said. "He had a tremendous career. If that is the case, he picked a great season to go out on."

Strahan has played 15 NFL seasons, all with the Giants. He was the league's defensive player of the year in 2001 and made the Pro Bowl seven times.

He set the mark in 2001 for sacks in a season with 22.5. If his retirement holds, his 141.5 sacks will place him fifth all-time.

Drafted out of Texas Southern in the second round, the defensive end progressed over five seasons with the Giants, establishing himself as a force with 14 sacks in 1997.

New York reached the Super Bowl in 2001 but were routed by the Baltimore Ravens. It looked like they wouldn't back before the end of Strahan's career, and the player frequently squabbled with coach Tom Coughlin.

The Giants finished strong in 2007, winning three playoff games on the road before posting the huge upset over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in February. Strahan recorded two tackles and a sack.

New York will lose its defensive leader after seeing the likes of defenders Gibril Wilson, Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor sign elsewhere this spring.

Lineman Osi Umenyiora will be among those asked to help fill the huge void.

"It's a very, very sad day for me personally," Umenyiora said. "I loved him like a brother. You put in 15 strong years in the NFL, man, that is something in this day and age is impossible to do."

For his part, the gregarious Strahan has already been rumoured to be up for a broadcasting opportunity.

With files from the Associated Press