Brazil legend Ronaldinho retires from professional football

The Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho has retired from professional football, according to his brother and agent Roberto Assis.

Ronaldinho, 37, who also won the Champions League and Ballon d’Or in a trophy-laden career, has not played for a professional team since leaving Fluminense in 2015, and said on the sidelines of a friendly in Chechnya that was he was “too old” to return to action last July.

Roberto Assis confirmed the news of his brother’s decision in a column for the Brazilian media outlet O Globo and revealed plans for farewell tribute events after the 2018 World Cup — three years after Ronaldinho’s last club game.

“He has stopped, it is ended,” Assis said. “Let’s do something pretty big and nice after the Russia World Cup, probably in August. We will do various events in Brazil, Europe and Asia and, of course, we are arranging something with the Brazilian team as well.”

Ronaldinho is best known for his versatility and excellence as an attacking midfielder, winger and forward throughout his career. He began with Gremio in his home country, before moving to Europe with Paris Saint-Germain in 2001.

His subsequent performances alongside fellow legends Ronaldo and Rivaldo at the 2002 World Cup drew interest from Europe’s elite clubs, and he joined Barcelona in 2003, where he spent five years at the pinnacle of his club career — a time which saw him winning two La Liga titles, the 2005 Ballon d’Or and the 2006 Champions League.

However, after a period of huge success, Ronaldinho reportedly lost focus at Barcelona and was sold to Milan as Pep Guardiola replaced Frank Rijkaard as manager. He also experienced disappointment on the international stage, disappointing at the 2006 World Cup and missing out on selection in 2010, despite a resurgence in form that helped Milan win the Serie A title in 2010-11.

After his stint at Italy, Ronaldinho returned to Brazil at the end of that season, and wound down his club career at Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro and Fluminense, as well as spending a brief spell in Mexico with Querétaro. He earned the last of his 98 Brazil caps against Chile in April 2013.

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