Brazil great Ronaldo confirms retirement

Sao Paulo, Feb 14 (AFP) Three-time FIFA World Player ofthe Year Ronaldo, whose goalscoring genius led Brazil to the2002 World Cup title, confirmed his retirement today at theage of 34.

The tearful Corinthians striker announced his decision ata press conference in Sao Paulo.

"I''m stopping my career as a professional footballer," hesaid, his voice breaking. "It''s been a beautiful, emotional,marvellous career.

"These last two years, I''ve had a long series ofinjuries, from one side to the other, one leg to the other,one muscle to the other. The pain pushed me to think about theend of my career."

Ronaldo also revealed that he suffered from a thyroidproblem that had made it difficult to control his weight.

"Four years ago, in Milan, I discovered that I sufferedfrom an under-active thyroid that slowed down my metabolismand that to control it, I had to take hormones that weren''tauthorised in football as they were considered a form ofdoping," he said.

"Lots of people must regret having made jokes about myweight. But I feel no anger towards anyone."

Having earlier indicated that he hoped to play on untilthe end of the year, injuries and Corinthians'' earlyelimination from the Copa Libertadores prompted him to bringforward his retirement.

During a glittering 14-year spell in Europe, Ronaldoscored goals at a prolific rate for PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona,Inter Milan, Real Madrid and AC Milan, before returning toBrazil in 2009.

He won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and became theleading scorer in World Cup finals tournaments when he scoredhis 15th goal at the 2006 tournament in Germany.

He was twice named European Footballer of the Year, in1997 and 2002, and finished his international career with 62goals in 97 appearances.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of alltime, ''El Fenomeno'' (The Phenomenon) won the World Cup withBrazil for the first time in 1994, though on that occasion the17-year-old was part of the squad and did not play.

In 1998, he was among the losing finalists, beaten 3-0 atStade de France by a rampant French side that included theinspirational Zinedine Zidane.

Brazil''s star striker suffered a convulsive fit on theeve of the match and was removed from the starting line-up.

In a dramatic changing-room re-shuffle, he was reinstatedjust before kick-off but was a shadow of the intimidatingforward who had scored four goals in the run-up to the final.

But the 2002 tournament was where he made history. (More)AFP SHN

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