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By ESPN Staff

Ronaldo sets retirement date

Former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Ronaldo has announced he will retire from football at the end of next year.

The 33-year-old has signed a new two-year deal at Corinthians which expires on December 31, 2011, after which he will hang up his boots at the end of an illustrious career.

He told a press conference on Monday: "I have extended my contract for another two years and that will be the last of my career. I want to give my all, have fun and finish with some major achievements."

Ronaldo, a three-time FIFA World Player of the Year, has suffered from majormknee problems in his career while his return to Brazilian football with Corinthians has been blighted by a thigh injury.

Despite that he has great affection for the Sao Paulo outfit and is set to become a club ambassador when he retires.

"The crowd that follow us is very passionate,'' he added. "I am increasingly fond of this club. It has been a wonderful chapter of my life here in Sao Paulo.''

The player's agent Fabiano Farah said: "Ronaldo will become a representative of Corinthians abroad. We will combine his name and the importance it has with the strength of the club.''

Ronaldo has won 97 caps for Brazil but he has not ruled out reaching three figures at this summer's World Cup, even though he has not yet received a call-up under former team-mate Dunga.

"About the World Cup, we'll see,'' he said. "I still have a chance of going. But for 2014 (when Brazil host the tournament), it is impossible. It is a long way off and time is moving on."

Ronaldo started out with Cruzeiro before securing a switch to Dutch club PSV Eindhoven when still a teenager. He quickly emerged as a huge talent, scoring 42 goals in 45 league games at the Philips Stadion.

At that point, he had become the most coveted young player in Europe and it came as no surprise when Bobby Robson took him to Barcelona.

Ronaldo showed he could handle the pressure of playing for one of the world's top clubs by rattling in 47 goals in 49 games as the Catalans won the European Cup Winners' Cup, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup.

Inter Milan was his next destination with the big-spending Italians having to shell out a world-record fee to take him to the San Siro. He was again a resounding success, helping the Nerazzurri to the UEFA Cup crown.

But it was at Inter when he suffered his first serious knee injury, against Lecce in November 1999. His comeback lasted just seven minutes as he was again struck down by knee problems.

Ronaldo made a successful return at the 2002 World Cup, winning the golden boot as tournament top scorer as Brazil won the trophy in Japan and South Korea.

A move from Inter to Real Madrid followed and he helped Los Merengues win the Primera Division crown in his first season at the Bernabeu. He maintained his prolific form in goal for Madrid but looked a shadow of the player who had burst on to the scene in the mid 1990s.

Ronaldo moved back to Italy in January 2007 with AC Milan but only made 20 league appearances before joining Corinthians.


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