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Deco, Former Barcelona and Chelsea Star, Retires from Football at Age 35

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Deco, Former Barcelona and Chelsea Star, Retires from Football at Age 35

Deco, the former Portugal international midfielder who won domestic titles in four countries, announced his retirement from football Monday after a 17-year professional career.

Citing his inability to overcome a series of recent injuries, the 35-year-old expressed disappointment that he could not complete his contract with Brazilian club Fluminense.

"I wished I could help Fluminense a lot more, but my body didn't let me do it," Deco said, according to Tales Azzoni of The Associated Press via SFGate.com.

Deco first came to prominence with Porto, where he played from 1999-2004, winning league titles in 1998-99, 2002-03 and 2003-04. His final season in Portugal, 2003-04, Porto won the UEFA Champions League under manager Jose Mourinho as Deco was named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.

In 2004, he signed for Barcelona, where he went on to win league titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06, with another Champions League triumph in 2006. The attacking midfielder then moved on to Chelsea in 2008. With the Blues, he won another league title in 2009-10, along with FA Cups in 2009 and 2010.

At his peak, Deco ranked among the world's best midfielders. In 2008, after signing him for Chelsea, Luiz Felipe Scolari compared Deco to Zinedine Zidane.

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

"Deco, obviously, is not Zidane, but he is very similar," Scolari said, per The Telegraph's Rory Smith. "You expect one thing and then it changes. That is very important. For me, he is one of the best players in the world, with players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi."

After joining Fluminense in 2010, Deco won domestic championships twice more in 2010 and 2012.

Born in Brazil, Deco was never called up to the Brazilian national team, but he gained Portuguese citizenship after playing six seasons in Portugal's domestic league. He played for Portugal 75 times and was selected for Euro 2004 and 2008 and the World Cups in 2006 and 2010.

He retired from international football following the 2010 World Cup.

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