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Stars such as El Kun, Victor Valdes and Gerard Pique used Twitter to praise their former team-mate, who will leave football at the end of the Clausura

Argentina and Manchester City star Sergio Aguero has demonstrated his affection for Gabriel Milito in a glowing public tribute, as the Independiente defender prepares to hang up his boots at the age of 31.

The former Barcelona and Zaragoza man, who was a team-mate of El Kun in Avellaneda and with the Albiceleste, announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the game due to physical and mental exhaustion.

His last game in front of the Rojo faithful will take place this weekend against San Lorenzo, in the Libertadores de America stadium where he began his career before moving to Spain.

Aguero was one of the first to react to the news as he spends the post-season break in his native Argentina, and made clear his respect for 'El Mariscal' via his official Twitter account.

"Gabi Milito announced he is leaving football. I just want to say that the greats will never retire. His commitment and passion are a shining example," the forward wrote, before recalling one of his most treasured memories when starting as a teenager with El Rojo.

"I remember as well that my first match in Independiente was his last before going to Spain. It was an honour, Gabi!"

Aguero's words were echoed by Milito's former Barca team-mates Victor Valdes and Gerard Pique, who also paid tribute via the social networking site.

"Gabi Milito, one of the best centre-backs that I had the pleasure to see play in front of me," was the goalkeeper's reaction to the news; while Pique highlighted the boost it gave his career to play alongside the defender.

"Gabi Milito is retiring, one of the greats! A pleasure to share a dressing room in Zaragoza and Barcelona and learn so much from him!"