Former Portugal midfielder Deco retires

"It is with deep sadness that I announce the end of my career," said former Portugal midfielder Deco, the Fluminense FC player signalling his retirement a day shy of his 36th birthday.

Former Portugal midfielder Deco has announced his retirement a day shy of his 36th birthday, having contested his final game as a professional for Fluminense FC against Goiás EC in Brazil last Wednesday.

"It is with deep sadness that I announce the end of my career as a professional athlete," said the former FC Porto, Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona player. "I would love to continue playing until the end of the current season, but my muscles cannot take it anymore. I thank Fluminense and everyone at the club for the opportunity they gave me to play in the Brazilian championship for the last three years with so much success."

Born in Brazil, Deco – born Anderson Luís de Souza – played for SC Corinthians Paulista and CS Alagoano before moving to Portugal, initially to represent SL Benfica. Unable to establish himself with the Eagles, he was loaned to FC Alverca and SC Salgueiros. He then moved to Porto, where he finally made a name for himself, winning three Portuguese league titles, three Portuguese Cups, two Super Cups, the 2002/03 UEFA Cup and the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League.

In 2004, Deco earned a move to Barcelona, where he continued to boost his silverware collection, claiming two Liga crowns, two Spanish Super Cups and a second UEFA Champions League title in 2005/06. He left the Catalan side to join Chelsea in 2008, where he won one Premier League title and two FA Cups before returning to Brazil, to represent Fluminense, where he was able to clinch two Brazilian titles and one Campeonato Carioca before hanging up his boots.

On the international stage, Deco obtained dual citizenship and made his Portugal debut against the country of his birth in 2002, scoring in a 2-1 win for his adoptive country. He featured at UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal, playing on the losing side in the final against Greece, and was also present at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups and UEFA EURO 2008. He made his last appearance in 2010, having won 75 caps and scored five goals.