Heart problem has Vidmar considering retirement

May 26, 2006

GLASGOW, May 26 (Reuters) - Australian defender Tony Vidmar is considering quitting soccer due to a heart problem, Scottish newspapers reported on Friday.

The former Rangers and Middlesbrough player withdrew from contention for Australia's World Cup squad earlier this month when tests revealed an irregular heartbeat.

The 35-year-old, now with Dutch club NAC Breda, needs an operation to open a blocked coronary artery and travels to London next month for surgery.

"The doctor told me playing football would be fatal and I was playing with my life," Vidmar was quoted as saying.

"It was a huge shock to me. It all started at the beginning of last month. I went for a stress test and the cardiologist found an irregular heartbeat.

"Further examination found my left coronary artery had a blood clot, which was restricting the blood flow."

Vidmar, who made his international debut for Australia in 1991, added: "Going to the World Cup was always my goal, but I was told that it could be fatal.

"Six months ago I was on top of the world and now my world has been turned upside down. But I've been very fortunate...I've had a career of 18 years and 15 years with the national team, which has been my life.

"I'm not going to the World Cup and obviously that's a big blow. But I played a big part in qualifying and maybe that's what it's all about."

Further tests in a month will reveal whether Vidmar knows for certain if he can play again, but the full back said: "I have a girlfriend and two kids and they are more important to me than anything else.

"I want to watch my kids grow up. There's life after football."