Sports / Soccer

Former Argentina and Barca player Riquelme retires

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-01-26 20:57

Former Argentina and Barca player Riquelme retires

Argentina's Juan Riquelme poses with his gold medal after the men's soccer competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, in this August 23, 2008 file picture. Riquelme announced on January 25, 2015, in an interview with a local television show that he is retiring from soccer. [Photo/Agencies]

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Juan Roman Riquelme, who made 51 appearances for Argentina's national team and also played in Spain for Villarreal and Barcelona, has announced his retirement.

The 36-year-old Riquelme, who returned to Argentina in 2008 to join his former team Boca Juniors, played primarily as an attacking midfielder and scored 17 goals for the national team.

A great passer and long-range shooter, he played in the 2006 World Cup in Germany and led Argentina to gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"It's a special day for me," Riquelme said. "Because I have decided to no longer play football."

Riquelme left Boca Juniors in June of 2014 and played a few matches with second-division Argentinos Juniors. That club was promoted back to the first division at the end of last year, and Riquelme said part of his retirement hinged on not wanting to face his beloved Boca.

"I can't play against Boca," he said. "I have a special feeling. In this country, I can't wear another shirt."

In his career with Boca, the "Xeneize" _ as the team is known _ won 11 titles including three Copa Libertadores titles, the top club trophy in Latin America.

Riquelme moved to Barcelona in 2002, but had limited success there. He was eventually loaned to smaller Spanish club Villarreal, where he lifted the team in 2006 to the final four of the Champions League.

Riquelme seemed to move effortlessly on the field, often coming up with a clever pass. He was also lethal on set pieces from all over the pitch.

"I tried to give my all to the clubs I played for, to the national team," he said. "I'm happy when I look back for all I have accomplished. Now that football is over, I'll have to learn some new things."

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