LIVERPOOL legend Lucas Leiva broke down in tears after announcing his retirement from football.
The 36-year-old has been forced to hang up his boots after being diagnosed with a heart condition.
Routine tests last year detected a heart problem.
He was forced to temporarily stop playing for Brazilian side Gremio in December.
And now Leiva has confirmed in an emotional statement that he is retiring from the game.
In a press conference, he said, via Globo Esporte: "First I would like to thank Gremio for all the support in these three months. Today I am announcing my retirement.
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"It's been a difficult period, I think this is the first time I've cried over this case. But I can only thank you. I'm ending where I'd like, not the way I'd like. But 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."
Further tests were carried out on the midfielder in the time since he initially stopped training.
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And doctors advised that continuing to play would pose "serious health risks" to the midfielder.
Globo Esporte report that doctor Marcio Dornelles said at the press conference: "After the end of that three-month period, we started to carry out all the exams again to see how he was doing.
"We finished yesterday, we finished all the exams.
"And after evaluating this fibrosis and the risks we found for this pathology, we advised Lucas not to continue with high-performance activities because it could pose health risks, one of which could have arrhythmias, and serious health risks."
Leiva's club, Gremio, thanked the midfielder on social media following the news of his retirement.
A tweet read: "Thank you for everything, @LucasLeiva87."
While another club post said: "You were always with Grêmio and we will always be with you, @LucasLeiva87!"
Leiva returned to boyhood club Gremio last June after a five-year spell in Italy with Lazio.
He initially left Gremio for Liverpool in 2007, and went on to play 346 games for the Reds in ten years at Anfield.
He won the League Cup with Liverpool in 2012, and helped Lazio to Coppa Italia glory in 2019.
Leiva was capped 23 times by Brazil, and represented his country at the 2008 Olympic Games.
He also posted an emotional statement to Instagram after confirming his retirement.
Part of it said: "Obviously I could write a book with the stories I've experienced in these three clubs and in more than 30 years of football, but I'm here to thank each and every person who helped me on this journey.
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"During my journey many people were important to me to have the career that I was able to build. I wouldn't have to name them all.
"My family, who has been the foundation, the support and always believed and lived with me this dream; to the coaches, team-mates, my friends for the unconditional support always and to the fans who have always been with me!"
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