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Feb 14, 2011

Brazil's Ronaldo set to retire

Brazilian World Cup-winner Ronaldo is set to retire from football at the age of 34. Ronaldo, who is considered one of the game's greatest ever strikers, has been playing at Corinthians but his body can no longer handle the rigours of professional football.

• World Cup Legend: Ronaldo
• Rewind to 1998: the Ronaldo riddle

Ronaldo played at many of Europe's top clubs during a memorable career, including Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and AC Milan. He was FIFA player of the year three times between 1996 and 2002 and he scored a record 15 goals in World Cups.

Ronaldo will formally announce his retirement at a press conference in Brazil on Monday. He was expected to continue with Corinthians until later in the year but the club's shock early exit from the Copa Libertadores this month, which irate fans partly blamed on the visibly unfit striker, has helped convince Ronaldo to call time early.

He reportedly told local media he has "cried like a baby" since Corinthians fell to Deportes Tolima in the two-legged first stage of South America's premier club tournament.

Ronaldo told newspaperO Estado de S. Paulo: "I want to stay but I can't. I think of a move, but I can't perform it as I want to. It's time. My body aches. The head wants to continue, but the body can't take much more."

Ronaldo started his career at Cruzeiro in 1993 and was taken to the 1994 World Cup in the United States as a 17-year-old. He did not play at his first of four World Cups but he secured a transfer to PSV Eindhoven soon after, starting a prolific 13-year stint in Europe where he would become the game's most feared striker and the world's most expensive footballer when bought by Inter from Barcelona in 1997.

In a career of staggering highs and the occasional low, Ronaldo is perhaps best known around the globe for his role in the World Cup finals in 1998 and 2002. Ronaldo nearly missed the 1998 final after suffering a fit before the match but he did feature and played below his usual standards as France recorded a 3-0 win. In 2002, Ronaldo scored both goals in Brazil's 2-0 win over Germany in the final.

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