Sergio Aguero, one of the most prolific strikers of his generation, is retiring from football at the age of 33 because of a heart arrhythmia.
“I have decided to stop playing football, it is a very difficult moment,” the tearful forward said. “I decided around 10 days ago after having done everything possible in case there was a chance… but it wasn’t to be. It’s taken me time to digest it.
Doctors initially told Aguero to follow a conservative therapeutic program for three months, but further tests this week determined the issue was severe enough to bring a premature end to his career.
Aguero, who joined Barcelona from Manchester City on a free transfer, suffered from breathing problems while playing in La Liga on Oct. 30. He was hospitalized shortly after and diagnosed Nov. 1.
Aguero played just five times for Barcelona because of a previous calf injury.
A winner of 15 senior titles, Aguero is best remembered for his heroics in the 94th minute of the 2011-12 Premier League season finale, which clinched Manchester City’s first top-flight title since 1968.
He also made his mark at Atletico Madrid and Independiente, won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, and lifted the Copa America with close friend Lionel Messi last summer.
In all, Aguero scored 427 goals in 786 matches for club and country.
Initially, the prolific striker denied reports that a heart condition had forced him to retire.
“Always positive,” Aguero said Nov. 12. “There are rumors going around, but I’m following the club doctor’s opinion, and we’ll see how I am in 90 days.”
He was substituted and taken to hospital for tests after experiencing dizziness in the first half of a 1-1 draw with Alaves. Aguero motioned to his chest and throat when medics approached him on the pitch.
In January, Aguero tested positive for COVID-19 and required more than a month to recover, disrupting his final season with City. He spent a decade with the club, winning 12 titles and becoming its all-time leading scorer with 260 goals in 390 appearances.