Lucas Leiva spent a decade at Liverpool (Photo: Getty)
Liverpool icon Lucas Leiva has announced his retirement from football aged 36 during an emotional press conference on Friday.
The defensive midfielder said he had been forced to hand up his boots earlier than planned at the advice of doctors due to a heart condition.
Lucas had returned to boyhood club Gremio in Brazil last year and had intended to end his career there though not as soon as this.
‘It’s been a difficult period. I think this is the first time I’ve cried over this case,’ a tearful Lucas said.
‘But I can only thank you. I’m ending where I’d like, not the way I’d like. I’m sure a new cycle will begin.
‘I had a lot of hope that it could reverse, but it was not the case. My health comes first.’
Lucas began his career with Gremio in 2005 before moving to Liverpool two years later for £5million.
Lucas made 346 appearances for the Reds (Photo: Getty)
He would go on to spend the next decade at Anfield where he would make 346 appearances, scoring seven goals, establishing himself a cult hero among Reds supporters.
Sadly, trophies largely evaded the club during his time there, with a League Cup victory in 2012 his only piece of silverware won, though he also reached the final of the same competition and the Europa League final in 2016.
But his performances for Liverpool were always admired, with Lucas named their Player of the Year for 2010/11.
Lucas joined Lazio after leaving Anfield (Photo: Getty)
In 2017, he left for Lazio where he achieved further success, winning the 2019 Coppa Italia and once again earning the admiration of the fans, winning Player of the Season on consecutive years.
In addition to his club club career, he won 24 caps for Brazil between 2007 and 2013.
Last year, he returned to Gremio and helped his club earn promotion back to the top-flight of Brazilian football but was forced out of training after a heart issue was detected back in December, which has led to today’s announcement.
Lucas won 24 caps for Brazil (Photo: Getty)
‘The day has come to say goodbye to the field. I confess that it came from greater forces, but I look back and can only be thankful for the career I built,’ Lucas added on Instagram.
‘In 2007 I transferred to the giant [that is] Liverpool, which was part of my life for 10 years. It is with great pride that I can say that today Liverpool is my home.
‘I’m proud to be an English citizen and along with my family; I’m Scouser!’
‘Everyone connected to Liverpool FC would like to wish Lucas the very best in his next chapter,’ a statement on the Reds’ website read.
‘We’re all with you. Congratulations on a brilliant career.’
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