Due to a heart issue, Barcelona striker Sergio Aguero has announced his retirement from sport at the age of 33.
Aguero hasn’t played since the end of October, when he was substituted during the first half of Barcelona’s draw with Alaves due to chest pains.
Barcelona later revealed that the uneasiness was caused by an arrhythmia, a wide term for any heart rhythm that isn’t fully normal, which would necessitate three months of treatment.
Since then, the former Manchester City attacker has had frequent heart exams to monitor his health, with the results informing him that continuing his professional career would be a risk.
On Wednesday, he announced his retirement at a press conference attended by Barca president Joan Laporta.
An emotional Aguero said: “This conference is to announce I have decided to stop playing professional football. It is a very difficult moment. The decision I have taken for my health; the problem I had a month and a half ago.
“I have been in good hands with the medical staff. I made the decision 10 days ago after doing everything possible to have some hope of playing on. I am very proud for my career. I always dreamed of a professional career since the first time I touched a ball at 5.
“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.”
Former Barcelona star Lionel Messi had kind words for his former teammate via an Instagram tribute.
“Practically all of our career together, Kun… We have lived very beautiful moments and others that were not so much so, but all of them brought us together even more and made us closer as friends. And we are going to continue to live moments together off the pitch,” Messi wrote.
“With so much happiness to lift the Copa America such a short time ago and with all of your accomplishments in England, the truth is that it hurts a lot to see how you must leave what you love the most due to what has happened.
“I am sure you will continue to be happy because you are the type of person who radiates happiness and those of us who love you are going to be with you. Now you will start a new stage in your life and I am convinced that you are going to live it with a big smile and with all the same hopefulness that you put into everything.
“I wish you the best in this new stage!!! I love you very much my friend and I am going to miss our times together on the pitch and with the Argentina national team!!!”
Pep Guardiola, a Barcelona great and City manager, was in attendance at Camp Nou, along with Txiki Begiristain, the director of football. The whole Barcelona first-team squad, as well as officials from Aguero’s previous teams, were in attendance.
“Sergio, I think, as we just saw, we are left with deep joy and excitement with what you could have been here at Barcelona, but anything you need with your condition we are here at your disposal,” Laporta said.
“You will be remembered not just as a player, but as a friend. A new journey awaits, and I am sure it will be just as successful. You deserve it.”
City also paid tribute to Aguero on social media and posted: “King Kun. Everyone at Manchester City would like to take this opportunity to thank @aguerosergiokun for his incredible contribution to our success over the last decade and wish him well in his retirement.”
Said Aguero: “I feel OK right now. Obviously the first two weeks were really difficult. When they did the first physical test on me, the medical staff told me there was a very big possibility I would not be able to continue playing.
“I am still processing everything. Then they called me to tell me it was definitive. Right now, I am OK, but I know it was difficult.”
Aguero joined Barcelona on a free transfer from City in the summer. His first goal came in the Clasico defeat to Real Madrid, after a calf injury delayed his debut until October.
Madrid also paid tribute to Aguero online and posted: “It was an honour to compete against a player like you, one of the best players in the world. Good luck to you and your family.”
On Oct. 30, Aguero was making his fifth appearance for his new club, and only his second start, when he suffered respiratory problems while playing against Alaves.
Before joining Atletico Madrid in 2006, Aguero had made a name for himself in Argentina as a teenager with Independiente. Before joining City for about €40 million, he scored 102 goals in five years in Spain.
On social media, Atletico Madrid delivered a greeting to the striker, writing: “Sergio, thank you for the memories. We wish you the best of luck. It was a privilege to see you play football in red and white. Best wishes.”
Aguero helped Manchester City win their first Premier League title by scoring a thrilling last-minute winner against Queens Park Rangers on the last day of the 2011-12 season.
He won 15 trophies in England, including five league crowns, and is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 260 goals in 390 games.
Because of his contribution to City’s success over the last decade, the club recently announced that he, along with Vincent Kompany and David Silva, would be honored with a statue outside the Etihad Stadium.
Aguero has also played 101 times for Argentina, scoring 41 goals. He was a member of the team that won the Copa America last summer and finished second in the 2014 World Cup.
When asked to recall his favourite goals, Aguero replied: “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 something that we had been looking for 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?”