The 32-year-old's retirement has yet to be formally announced by Southampton due to legal technicalities, but he confirmed: "I shall miss the day-to-day involvement of being part of a football club but not the slog to overcome this knee injury.
"There are still some things to be sorted out. It's a bit of a rigmarole. I thought you just stopped playing and retired but it's not as simple as that."
Howells signed in what looked a good piece of business for Dave Jones, but he made only nine starts for the south coast club, scoring at Highbury, and spent a spell on loan at Bristol City. He underwent four operations, but the condition of his knee did not improve. A formal announcement will be made but Howells joins fellow Saint John Beresford in premature retirement.
Meanwhile, ex-Tottenham striker Gordon Durie is poised to relocate to Australia to link up with Rangers' feeder club Northern Spirit in September. The 34-year-old has been without a club since his Ibrox contract expired in the close season. The Scot had been tracked by several clubs north and south of the border, but Spirit have won the race for his signature.
Manager Graham Arnold said: "Gordon is a certaintly to play for us, not just for six weeks as has been suggested, but for the whole season. He will arrive in September for pre-season training and I know he will be a major asset to our club."
Former Spur David Howells has revealed that he is to retire from the game due to a knee injury. Howells, who departed from White Hart Lane in 1998 for Southampton, played 335 times for Spurs in a 12-year spell at the club.