• AFP-JIJI

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Barcelona and Argentina striker Sergio Aguero announced his retirement from soccer at a tearful press conference on Wednesday, just over a month after being diagnosed with a heart problem.

“I have decided to stop playing professional football,” said Aguero, who enjoyed 10 highly successful years at Manchester City before leaving at the end of last season. “It is a very hard moment but, I am happy with my decision. My health comes first.”

He signed a two-year deal with Barcelona, but made just five appearances — scoring one goal against Real Madrid — before being taken to the hospital with chest pains after a match against Alaves in October.

Aguero was diagnosed with a heart condition and told he would not be able to play again.

“I took this decision because of problems I had a bit more than a month ago,” he said during a news conference that was attended by his teammates at Camp Nou. “I was in good hands with the doctors who also did their best and told me the best thing to do was stop playing.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and director of football Txiki Begiristain were also in attendance.

“I did everything possible to keep the hope alive, but there wasn’t much hope.”

Aguero, commonly known by his nickname “Kun,” began his career at Independiente in his native Argentina before moving to Europe with Atletico Madrid in 2006.

He won the Europa League during his time with the Spanish side and then moved to City in 2011.

Aguero left Etihad Stadium a decade later as City’s all-time leading scorer with 260 goals, the most famous being his strike in injury time against Queens Park Rangers in May 2012, a goal that won the Premier League title.

“I am very proud of the career I have had,” he added.

“Everyone knows about the goal I scored for City against Queens Park Rangers to win my first Premier League, but there have been many great moments.”

Aguero’s retirement comes at the end of a year marked by the collapse of Denmark’s Christian Eriksen, who suffered a heart attack while playing for his country against Finland at Euro 2020 in June.

Eriksen, who is with Inter Milan, was later fitted with a pacemaker but is not permitted to play in Serie A as a result.

Other players have retired due to similar problems, including French World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, who retired at age 36 after a medical at Paris Saint-Germain revealed a heart condition in 2008.

Aguero’s retirement means he will miss out on the chance to represent Argentina at next year’s World Cup in Qatar, but he did help his country win the Copa America in Brazil earlier this year, collecting his 100th cap during that tournament.

“Almost our entire careers together, Kun,” Lionel Messi, who played alongside Aguero with Argentina, wrote on Instagram.

“I am going to really miss being with you on the pitch and with the national team.”

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