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 By Mike Whalley

Ex-Reds forward Luis Garcia retires

Former Liverpool winger Luis Garcia has announced his retirement at the age of 35.

Luis Garcia celebrates after his controversial
Luis Garcia celebrates after his controversial "ghost goal" against Chelsea in 2005.

• Rewind: Special One spooked

The Spain international scored the notorious "ghost goal" that took the Reds past Chelsea and into the 2005 Champions League final.

Garcia spent three seasons at Anfield after manager Rafa Benitez brought him to the club from Barcelona for six million pounds in 2004.

The 35-year-old scored 30 times in 121 appearances for Liverpool -- but his most famous effort was one that Blues boss Jose Mourinho claimed should not have counted.

It came in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal between Benitez’s Liverpool and Mourinho’s Chelsea in May 2005.

With the score at 0-0 following the first leg, Milan Baros knocked the ball past keeper Petr Cech, and Garcia got a touch to claim the only goal of the tie.

However, Mourinho was convinced that William Gallas had hooked the ball away before it crossed the line, and later described it as a “ghost goal."

Garcia helped Liverpool to win the Champions League in 2005, but missed their defeat to AC Milan in the 2007 final because he was recovered from cruciate knee ligament damage. He also missed the 2006 FA Cup final win over West Ham because he was suspended.

In a statement on his website, Garcia said: “Today I’ve decided to retire as a professional footballer, thanking the interest of the teams that talked to me in recent weeks, but I think it’s time to end this important chapter in my life and move to the next page.”

He also paid tribute to Liverpool, saying: “[Thanks] to Liverpool FC, for making me pass through the history of international football and be part of the Red family forever.

“[And thanks] to each and every one of the people over 17 years of [my] career that have been with me, have helped me and supported me at every stage I have lived, and although not mentioned one by one, I will be forever grateful.”

Garcia began his career in the youth set-up at Barcelona and progressed to their B team before leaving to join Atletico Madrid in 2002 after loan spells at Valladolid, Toledo and Tenerife, where he first played for Benitez.

He returned to Barcelona in 2003, before following Benitez to Anfield a year later.

After leaving Liverpool, Garcia went back to Atletico Madrid, before finishing his career with spells at Racing Santander, Greek club Panathinaikos and Mexican sides Puebla and Pumas UNAM.

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