Sergio Aguero at Barcelona HQ
Sergio Aguero, the Man City legend who moved to Barcelona only six months back, bid adieu to soccer. Image Credit: Barcelona FC Twitter

Barcelona: Six months after joining Barcelona in a high-profile transfer, Sergio Aguero has retired from football because of a heart condition.

The former Manchester City player, one of the best strikers of his generation, wiped away tears and fought his emotions as he made the announcement on Wednesday on a stage at Camp Nou.

“This conference is to communicate that I have decided to stop playing football,” the Argentine player said, according to a translation of his remarks. “I have decided to stop playing football — it’s a very difficult moment. The decision that I made I have taken for my health, because of the problem that I had a month and a half ago. I was in the good hands of the medical staff, who have done their best and have told me that the best thing would be to stop playing. So 10 days ago I made that decision. I want to tell everyone that I did everything possible to have some hope, but there wasn’t very much.”

The problem Aguero referenced surfaced 41 minutes into Barcelona’s October 30 draw with Alaves, when Aguero had difficulty breathing, became dizzy and felt chest discomfort. He made his way off the pitch and was hospitalised, with the team announcing that he would be out for three months to undergo “a diagnostic and therapeutic process” after a cardiac evaluation that reportedly revealed an arrhythmia.

“When they did the first physical test on me in the clinic, the medical staff called me to tell me there was a very big possibility that I wouldn’t be able to keep playing,” Aguero said. “From that point I was processing it all, but it wasn’t easy. One of the doctors told me straight up, ‘That’s enough.’”

And so his playing career ends at 33.

“I want to tell everyone that I did everything possible. I dreamt about playing football since I was 5 years old and I first touched a ball. I never thought I would get to Europe, so I want to show my gratitude to everyone regardless of where I trained.

“I’m proud of the career I’ve had and am fortunate it is happening to me now rather than before. 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.”

Aguero struggled with a calf injury after joining Barcelona on a free transfer in May and was initially out 10 weeks. He ultimately made four appearances for the Spanish side, scoring once. He is Manchester City’s all-time leading scorer with 260 goals in 390 appearances from 2011 to 2021, and he also played for Atletico Madrid after starting at Independiente in Argentina. He won 101 international caps, scoring 42 goals, and played on the Argentina team that reached the 2014 World Cup final and won the Copa America in early July.

Aguero is the fourth-highest scorer in English Premier League history with 184 goals in 275 games and is the league’s highest-scoring player born outside England. He scored every 108 minutes in the Premier League, a rate that is the best in the competition’s history, and will be remembered for one of its most iconic goals in 2012. He scored one of two goals in stoppage time, lifting Manchester City over Queens Park Rangers for its first league championship in 44 years.

— Washington Post