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Ex-Argentina international Riquelme retires
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Ex-Argentina international Riquelme retires

Fola Akintomide

Legendary Argentina and Boca Juniors playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme has retired from football. Speaking Sunday in an interview with ESPN Argentina, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist made it official: “I’ve made the decision to not play football anymore,” said the 36-year-old Riquelme. “I have been clear since after [earning] promotion with Argentinos. I was clear that to continue playing it had to be something that interested me. I thought it best to take it calmly and communicate that I am not going to play anymore.”

Riquelme, who is considered one of the greatest players of his generation, won three Copa Libertadores titles (South America’s equivalent of the Champions League) and an Intercontinental Cup for Argentine giants Boca Juniors in his career, while being named South American Player of the Year once, and Argentine Player of the Year four times.

After the second of his Libertadores triumphs, in 2002 Riquelme transferred to Spanish giants Barcelona, where he struggled to make an impact before making way for Brazilian star Ronaldinho.

However in the 2005-06 season, while playing with Spanish side Villarreal, he made his biggest splash on the European stage, leading the club to its only Champions League semifinals appearance before eventually falling to Arsenal over two legs.

Riquelme represented his country in the 2006 World Cup, and was capped 51 times overall, scoring 17 goals.

He last played for Argentinos Juniors, where he helped earn the club promotion into Argentina’s top division for the upcoming season.