Lionel Messi pays tribute to Sergio Aguero after the retirement of the Barcelona striker

Lionel Messi has paid tribute to his close friend Sergio Aguero after the Barcelona striker retired from football aged 33.

Aguero announced his retirement in a press conference at the Nou Camp on Wednesday, on the advice of doctors after leaving the field against Aalaves last month with chest pains. He was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia and, subsequently, has now opted to end his time on the pitch, having been advised of medical risks if he continued.

The former Atletico Madrid and Manchester City striker said in an emotional statement: “It is a very difficult moment. The decision I have taken for my health; the problem I had a month and a half ago. I have been in good hands with the medical staff. I made the decision 10 days ago after doing everything possible to have some hope of playing on.

“I am very proud of my career. I always dreamed of a professional career since the first time I touched a ball at five.”

Aguero is close with fellow Argentina international Messi, who is godfather to his son. They never played at club level together, with Aguero joining Barca last summer at the same time as Messi finally left the Nou Camp to joing Paris Saint-Germain, but shared many caps for their country.

Writing on Instagram, Messi said: “[We spent] practically an entire career together, Kun [Aguero’s nickname]. We have lived very beautiful moments and others not so, that have made us unite more and more and to be better friends, and we will continue to experience them together off the pitch. The joy of raising the Copa America together, all the goals you have achieved in England.

“The truth is that now you have to stop doing what you like best because of what happened to you. You will continue to be happy because you are a person who transmits happiness and everyone who loves you will always be with you. Now starting a new phase of your life, I am convinced that you will live it with the smile you put in everything.”

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