Rivaldo announces retirement aged 41

The veteran finally called time on his playing career, insisting it was a "miracle" that he was able to reach the heady heights on Barcelona and AC Milan
World Cup winner Rivaldo has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 41.

The Brazilian, who scored 34 times in 74 appearances for his country between 1993 and 2003, played for the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan at the peak of his powers but prolonged his career with short stints at lesser clubs like Olympiakos and AEK Athens.

Following stints in recent years at the likes of Bunyodkor and Sao Paulo, Rivaldo signed on with Mogi Mirim for the third time in his career at the end of 2013 with the deal set to see him stay until 2015.

However, the forward finally called an end to his "miracle" two-and-a-half decade career on Saturday and hopes his time on the field has set an example for future players to follow their hearts despite being advised otherwise.

"With tears in my eyes, I would like to thank God, my family and everyone else for their support and love I have received during my 24 years as a professional footballer," Rivaldo wrote on his official social media outlets.

"My history as a player has come to an end today. My entire career was built upon a miracle, I've left my hometown Paulista without any financial resources, no agent, disbelieved by doctors and coaches and I saw a distant dream come true.

"With persistence, dedication and, mostly, by the hand of God, I've achieved to be recognised as the best player in the world, to be a world champion, among many other awards and honours.

"In a land where everything is for consumption, I exit as part of history, maybe an example, as testimony for sure that it's worth fighting and believing for what you want."

The striker has pondered retirement in the past but subsequently moved back from playing in Angola in 2012 to his native Brazil where he has played lower league football.