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By ESPN Staff

Rivaldo quits AEK Athens to head to Uzbekistan

Rivaldo has rocked AEK Athens by telling the club he is leaving to take up a lucrative contract with Uzbekistan outfit FC Bunyodkor.

The veteran Brazilian forward revealed he held talks with AEK chairman Demis Nikolaidis last week and informed him that he has been made an 'extremely tempting contract offer', which he intends to take up immediately.

Rivaldo, 36, confirmed the news in a radio interview with Greek sport station Novosport FM, commenting: 'It was a difficult decision to make but I have received an offer that is very good for the end of my career. I had a great time at AEK. I thank the president and the fans but the offer is very good for me and my family.

'It is a very good proposal and I cannot turn it down. I would like to ask for a million apologies because there is so little time in the transfer window for the club to replace me but it was an exceptional proposal.'

The Asian club, previously known as PFC Kurivchi, finished runners-up in the Uzbek league last season and have tried to match it's growing success on the field with big name signings.

Earlier this summer, Bunyodkor sensationally claimed to have signed Samuel Eto'o but what would have been one of the most surprising transfers of all time was never confirmed and the Cameroon striker remains at Barcelona.

The news of Rivaldo's departure comes just three days after Nikolaidis announced he would be stepping down at the end of this season.

The former AEK striker headed a consortium that took over the Athens club in 2004 but cited the lack of support from fans as one of the reason that he would not continue in his role. Rivaldo said his decision was not connected to Nikolaidis's departure.

AEK play Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, with the Yellows looking to overturn a 1-0 defeat from the first leg.

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