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Brazil’s Ronaldo Retires After Losing Health Battle

Ronaldo, who holds the career record for World Cup goals, said he’s retiring from soccer because of health problems.

Ronaldo Luis Nazario played in three World Cups, scoring 15 times, including both goals in the 2-0 victory over Germany that gave Brazil the 2002 trophy. The 34-year-old was named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1996, 1997 and 2002. He announced his retirement today at a news conference in Sao Paulo.

Ronaldo said he was diagnosed four years ago with hypothyroidism, which slows metabolism. That’s hurt his play and caused him to gain weight, he said.

“My career was beautiful,” he told reporters. “It was wonderful. I had many victories. I made a lot of friends. I have to accept my defeats and I’ve lost to my body.”

Ronaldo said the pain he’s suffering from soccer-related injuries made him bring forward his retirement.

“I have pain while climbing the stairs,” he said.

Ronaldo moved from his native country to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands after being a non-playing member of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup-winning squad. In 1996 he switched to Barcelona, where he scored 47 goals in 49 matches, and was sold to Inter Milan for a then-record $27.6 million transfer fee after one season.

Leading Scorer

He was named the tournament’s best player at the 1998 World Cup, where Brazil lost in the final to France, before missing several seasons with a knee injury. After the 2002 victory in the global tournament, he joined Real Madrid, winning the 2003 Spanish league title with the “Galacticos” team featuring Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane.

Ronaldo scored three times at the 2006 World Cup to reach 15 goals, making him the all-time leading scorer. Brazil was defeated by France in the quarterfinals, and he retired from international soccer, having scored 62 goals in 97 games.

He moved to AC Milan in January 2007, but couldn’t stay fit, and returned to play for Corinthians in his homeland in December 2008.

Ronaldo said he will dedicate himself to his sports marketing company 9ine, which he created with WPP Plc, and a foundation he plans to create.

Corinthians financial vice-president Raul Correa da Silva said Ronaldo’s retirement won’t affect team revenue this year as the club’s current contracts expire Dec. 31, according to an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News.

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