Barcelona attacker Sergio Aguero has announced his retirement from football at an emotional press conference at Camp Nou.
The 33-year-old experienced chest pains and breathing difficulties during the first half of Barcelona’s 1-1 home draw with Alaves on October 30.
He fell to the turf clutching his chest and was treated for several minutes before being able to walk off and taken to hospital. The Argentinian was subsequently diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia [irregular heartbeat].
“I have decided to stop playing professional football. It is a very difficult moment,” said Aguero, who was in tears before he had even spoken a word on Wednesday, where he addressed the media alongside Barca president Joan Laporta.
“The decision I have made, I have taken it for my health. That is the main reason for my decision, for the problem I had a month and a half ago. I was in good hands of the medical staff that have done their best and told me that the best thing would be to stop playing.
“So I made that decision about a week ago and I want to tell everyone I did everything possible to have hope, but there wasn’t very much.”
The Argentine joined Barca on a free transfer during the close season from Manchester City, but made only five appearances in all competitions due to a calf injury and his cardiac issues, scoring once in a 2-1 home defeat by Real Madrid.
Aguero moved to Spain after a decade with City, where he scored 260 goals in 390 appearances and became the club's record goalscorer. He won five Premier League titles, six League Cups and an FA Cup during his spell in England.
“I am very proud of the career I have had, very happy,” said Aguero, who also played for Independiente in Argentina and Barca's Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid.
“I always dreamt of playing football from five years old. I want to show my gratitude to everyone, all of the clubs I played at and, of course, my love, Argentina.
“I want to thank Atletico Madrid who took a chance on me when I was 18 and Manchester City, everyone knows who I feel about City and how well they treated me there.
“I don’t know what awaits me in the next life, but I know there are a lot of people who love me and want the best for me.”
The Barcelona squad were among the crowd watching at Camp Nou, including the likes of Gerard Pique, Dani Alves and manager Xavi Hernandez.
Aguero's former City manager Pep Guardiola and director of football at the Premier League club, Txiki Begiristain, were also present. As were representatives from Atletico, the Argentina football federation and the Spanish football federation.
When asked for his career highlights, Aguero said: “The goal for Independiente against Racing when I was 17 was one of the best that I ever scored. Winning the Europa League with Atletico was a really happy moment and then obviously with City the goal I scored to win the first Premier League, for me and City, was a beautiful moment.
“There are a lot and the last was the Copa America. I only played two or three matches, but it was comething that we had been looking for years and years. And of course, I will take my last goal against Madrid. It is not bad for a last goal is it?”
Club president Laporta said: “It is as if all the reps of the teams you have played for are right here next to me too. We are left with the joy and excitement of what you could have been here at Barca.
“You have all of our support, anything you need we are here at your disposal. You have been an amazing player and everywhere you have played you have achieved so much, not just the talent but also the friendships you made.
“On your first day at Barca, we wished you had come here earlier. We always wanted you to play for our club but a new journey awaits and I hope it will be just as successful, you deserve it.”
Aguero’s glittering 18-year-career began at Independiente, where he became Argentina’s youngest top-flight debutant. After three years he moved to Atletico Madrid in 2006 before signing for City in 2011.
His first season at the Etihad Stadium ended in a career highlight when his injury-time winner against QPR snatched top spot from rivals Manchester United and gave City a first title since 1968.
His final City appearance ended in the heartbreak of a Champions League final defeat by Chelsea, with another career low point being the 2014 World Cup final loss to Germany.
He helped Argentina win the Copa America earlier this year, while in five matches for Barcelona Aguero scored once, in a 2-1 defeat by Real Madrid.