Kun Agüero bids farewell to football in tears

Heart problems force footballer to retire: "I'm leaving with my head held high"

4 min
Sergio Kun Aguero, Xavi Hernandez and Pep Guardiola today at Camp Nou

BarcelonaEmotional and dejected. Kun Agüero, seated on a stool on a stage in front of the Camp Nou box, found it hard to start his farewell speech. Cardiac problems have forced him to retire and he has explained it between tears, looking for strength to articulate some first words: "Health comes first. And that's why I had to take this decision. I've been in good hands and the doctors have advised me that the best thing to do was to quit. I have done everything possible to see if there was any hope of continuing to play, but there isn't". The Argentine was accompanied by president Joan Laporta on stage, and the entire first team, coach Xavi Hernández, a large part of the board and also Pep Guardiola and Txiqui Berigistain, who he played under at Manchester City, as well as his family. "My dream was to get to play in the elite and I have achieved it," he said, and explained that it was about a week ago that he definitively decided that he would have to announce his retirement.

Kun Agüero during the press conference

The 33-year-old explained that he is proud of his career and thanked all the clubs he has played for: Independiente, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Barça and also Argentina national team. "I'm leaving with my head held high and very happy with my career. I don't know what awaits me now, but I know that I'm surrounded by people who love me and will help me. I'll be calm for a while now, because the life of a footballer, even if it doesn't seem like it, is also a sacrifice and involves giving up a lot of things. But in the future I'll still be linked to football in one way or another. Despite being overcome by tears at all times, Kun didn't hide his sense of humour: "I thank all the press for the treatment received. Everyone has treated me well. Well, maybe not everyone, but that's okay". The Argentine thanked everyone on the most complicated day of his career, that of retirement. "The first two weeks, when I did the first tests and the doctors told me that there was a very big possibility that I would have to stop, were very hard. When they told me it was definitive, I wanted to keep hope alive, but with a cool head I knew it couldn't be," he explained.

"At Barça we have been left with the desire to see more of you, but we believe that you have made the right decision and you have our full support," explained Joan Laporta. "You have to be proud of what you have sown throughout your career as a footballer and now you have to reap the rewards. You deserve the best. I remember when you played in La Liga, at Atletico Madrid, and you were the envy of all culés". On his brief stay in Barcelona, where he arrived last summer and where he has only been able to participate in five games, Agüero wanted to highlight "the fans' esteem: from the youngest to the oldest, I've noticed it on the street". The Argentinian has also highlighted the soul in the Barça dressing room, with "a lot of young people eager to learn".

Agüero has also reviewed the best moments of his career: "A goal with Independiente, aged 17, that I scored against Racing. It was one of the most beautiful goals I've ever scored. I also have many memories in the Europa League with Atletico or the goal against Queens Park Rangers which won us my first Premier League. The last beautiful moment I lived was in Copa America, in which I played little, but I felt that we won a title we had been after for a long time. Oh, and I wouldn't want to leave it, my last goal was against Real Madrid, which isn't bad, is it?".

A statue in Manchester

Kun is especially loved in Manchester. The Argentine played for ten seasons at City (2011-2021) in which he won, among other, five Premier League titles. "He is one of the three most important players in the history of City, especially in the modern and successful history of the club. Since Sheikh Mansour's capital injection in 2008 and the competitive boost it gave City, he has been their most important player," explains Pol Ballús, a Catalan journalist based in Manchester and co-author of the book Pep's City: the making of a super team and The Manchester Notebook: How and with whom Pep Guardiola conquered England. Ballús recalls that City have commissioned a statue of Kun, which will be installed this summer outside the Etihad Stadium, where statues of other players such as David Silva and Vincent Kompany stand. "Silva and Kompany are two of the other great protagonists of City's contemporary success story, but Agüero also connected a lot with the fans. He wasn't just a striker who scored a lot of goals, he was a charismatic player, the team's friendly face," says The Athletic Manchester correspondent Sam Lee.

Agüero, who in 390 games as a Cityzen has scored 260 goals – by far the most in the club's history – and is much loved by City fans because he "basically gave a lot of people in Manchester the time of their lives". "El Kun scored the 93.20 minute goal against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2012 Premiership. The goal put the team 3-2 up and meant snatching the title away from Manchester United, which had dominated the city since the nineties, at the last minute. That goal also ended City's 40-year titleless run," says Ballés. Many fans have tattoos of the moment, and even this season's City shirt has 93.20 minutes printed on the inside of the collar.

"That league was the most important turning point in the history of the club and Aguero was the protagonist, arriving at the club when it was just changing and left, ten years later, leaving it as a giant," Ballús adds. The figures also support the Argentine's career in England: nobody has ever scored more goals for a single club in Premiership history (184 goals). Overall, he is fourth, only behind legends such as Alan Shearer (260), Wayne Rooney (208) and Andrew Cole (187). "Apart from scoring a lot of goals, he scored some very important ones and also against the big teams in the Premiership: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea...", Lee says. The Argentinian is also the player with the most hat-tricks (12), ahead of Alan Shearer (11) and Robbie Fowler (9). "It's not pretty for me to say it, but I've been a star," said Kun.