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Feb 14, 2011

Ronaldo confirms retirement

Brazilian icon Ronaldo has confirmed in a tearful press conference that he has scored his last goal in a prolific and storied career in football that saw him become the top scorer in the history of the World Cup.

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

The former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter and Milan star announced on Sunday night that he would be retiring at the age of 34, and held a press conference on Monday to explain his decision.

"As you can imagine and you heard during the whole weekend, I'm here today to [confirm that] I'm closing my career as a professional player,'' Ronaldo said.

Earlier on Monday, Ronaldo visited his team-mates at Corinthians' training ground before calling a press conference to confirm his retirement to the global media.

"I thanked all the players, the coach Tite, for all the minutes, for every second I was with them,'' added Ronaldo, who was joined at the press conference by sons Ronald and Alex. "It was a very beautiful career, wonderful and exciting.

"[There were] a lot of defeats and a lot of victories. I made a lot of friends, and I can't recall any enemies. I'm ending my career due to some very important reasons."

Ronaldo ends his 18-year career in football having scored a total of 326 goals in 466 games at club level, as well as finishing with a tally of 62 goals in 97 caps for Brazil which is bettered only by the legendary Pele.

However, while Pele won three World Cups to Ronaldo's two - the latter as a non-playing substitute in 1994 and as the Golden Boot winner in 2002 - even he cannot match the record 15 goals scored in the competition by the player nicknamed O Fenomeno ('The Phenomenon'). Ronaldo broke the record set by Gerd Muller when scoring in a victory over Ghana in the second round of the 2006 finals.

Emerging from the Cruzeiro youth system, the then-teenager scored 41 times in 45 games for the Brazilian club to attract interest from Europe, and moved to PSV Eindhoven in 1994. In the Netherlands, goals continued to flow as he scored 54 times in 58 games for the club.

His remarkable form in the Eredivisie saw him win the first of three FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 1996, while he also earned a move to Barcelona when Bobby Robson brought him to Camp Nou. In Catalunya, he enjoyed arguably the greatest season of the modern era when scoring a club record 47 goals in 49 appearances.

That one year at Barcelona saw him win the Copa del Rey and the Cup Winners' Cup before joining Inter in a world record £18 million move in 1997. He won the UEFA Cup in his first season at the San Siro but suffered extensive injury problems in Italy, only truly returning to form at the 2002 World Cup where he scored twice in the final to cast aside the memory of the 1998 final in Paris, when he suffered a fit prior to kick-off and was a shadow of his normal self in a 3-0 loss to France.

Inter president Massimo Moratti said on Monday: "Ronaldo was the most powerful centre forward in history. It was an honour to have him at Inter at the pinnacle of his career."

Ronaldo joined Real Madrid following the 2002 tournament, winning La Liga twice and famously scoring a sensational hat-trick against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League, before spending further spells with Milan and, in his home country, Corinthians.

However, having struggled with his weight in recent seasons, a shock 2-0 defeat to Colombian side Deportes Tolima in the preliminary round of the Copa Libertadores last week was met with abuse by Corinthians fans, some of whom dubbed him a "shameless fatty".

Now Ronaldo has chosen to call time on one of the great careers of the modern age.

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