42-year-old legend Romario announces retirement

April 15, 2008

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 15 (Reuters) - Former Brazil striker Romario announced his retirement on Monday at 42, ending a career in which he won the World Cup, was involved in numerous controversies and claimed to have scored more than 1,000 goals.

'Officially I'm not playing any more. I've stopped,' Romario said at a DVD launch. 'My time is up. Everything has been a lot of fun.'

Romario played for Brazil at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, scoring five goals to help Brazil win the latter tournament. He made 73 appearances for his country between 1987 and 2005, scoring 56 goals.

He had four stints with Vasco da Gama, where he started and finished his career, and also played for Flamengo and Fluminense in Brazil, Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Valencia.

Romario also had spells with Al Sadd in Qatar, Miami FC in the United States and Adelaide United in Australia.

'These last 20 years for me have been very positive,' said Romario, regarded as one of the game's top goal poachers. 'To be honest, I'm stopping because I don't see myself in any shape to continue playing.

'I haven't played since November, I've put on three or four kilos since then and, at this age, it's difficult to get back to fitness.'

Known for his dislike of training, he added: 'I'm happy because I won't have to train again, or travel or sit in team hotels.'

Last May, Romario scored what he claimed was his 1,000th goal but admitted that many of these were scored in friendlies, youth and testimonial games.

He only scored two more goals, making his last appearance on Nov. 4 as a substitute for Vasco against Internacional.

In December, he was banned for 120 days after testing positive for the banned masking agent finasteride following a game in October.

This was overturned in February when a tribunal accepted his appeal that he had inadvertently used the substance as part of treatment for hair loss.

In between, he had five matches as Vasco's player-coach but quit because of interference in team selection by club president Eurico Miranda.

During his career, Romario often said he played better after a night out on the town.

Never known for modesty, he once said: 'When I was born, the man in the sky pointed to me and said 'That's the guy.''

However, he was axed on the eve of the 1998 World Cup because of injury and then controversially left out in 2002 by Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Romario kept his career going, defying those who said he should hang up his boots, but four years ago he was sacked by Fluminense after being jeered off the field at the Maracana.

Vasco, the club where he began his career, took him back in 2005 and in a remarkable turnaround, hescored 22 goals in the Brazilian championship to finish as the competition's topscorer at the age of 39.