Ex-Liverpool, Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva retires due to heart condition

Gremio midfielder Lucas Leiva has announced his retirement from football due to a heart condition.

Lucas, 36, had not played since December when a routine medical check-up showed a cardiac anomaly.

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The former Liverpool player had only returned to Gremio, the club where he began his career, in July 2022 after 15 years playing in Europe.

"I thank Gremio for all the support in these three months," an emotional Lucas said in Friday's press conference. "I am announcing my retirement.

"It has been a difficult period. It's the first time I cry in this case. I'm grateful for all this career time. I'm ending where I'd like to, but not the way I'd like to.

''I'm sure the new cycle will start brilliantly too. Thanks for everyone's patience. I had a lot of hope that I could reverse it, but that was not the case. My health comes first."

Lucas, who made 24 appearances for Brazil, joined Liverpool in 2007 from Gremio.

He racked up 345 games for the Reds in his 10 seasons at the club.

Lucas was named Liverpool's Young Player of the Year in 2010 and Fans' player of the year in 2011.

"We're all with you, Lucas Leiva," Liverpool wrote in a social media post. "Congratulations on a brilliant career and we wish you the very best in your next chapter."

He joined Lazio in 2017 and during his five seasons in Rome, he lifted the Coppa Italia and two Italian Super cups.

Gremio president Alberto Guerra has left the door open for Lucas to continue at the club in a different role.