Ronaldo to retire next year

SAO PAULO: Double World Cup winner Ronaldo said on Monday he would retire from professional football at the end of next year but still had hopes of appearing for Brazil in the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa in June.

The 33-year-old three-times world footballer of the year - widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time - told a media conference in Sao Paolo he was finally calling time on his illustrious but injury-hit career.

Currently playing for Corinthians in Sao Paolo, the player known as 'El Fenomeno' during his prime said he had agreed with the club to play until the end of 2011.

"I've renewed for another two years and they will be the last of my career. I want to give my all. I hope to have fun and end with some big wins," he said, according to the G1 news website.

That could include a final appearance for Brazil in the June 11-July 11 World Cup in South Africa, said Ronaldo, who scored 62 goals in 97 appearances for Brazil.

"We'll see. I still have a chance to go (to South Africa). For the next one (in Brazil in 2014), it's impossible. It's so far away and time is passing - including for me," he said.

The former Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Inter striker helped Brazil to victory in the 1994 and 2002 World Cup, shrugging off injury to end the latter tournament as top World Cup scorer of all time with 15 goals.

He last played for his country in the 1-0 defeat to France in the quarter-final of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He scored his last goal for Brazil four days earlier in the 3-0 win over Ghana.

Ronaldo's stellar career was overshadowed by injury and fitness issues. He was sidelined while playing for Inter by a knee injury in 1999 only to damage the same knee in his comeback for the club in February 2000, effectively keeping him out of action until March 2002.

Ronaldo was a favourite with fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium during a prolific spell with Real Madrid, helping them to the Spanish title in 2003, his debut season.

That year he also scored a hat-trick in the Champions League quarter-final, second leg win over Manchester United. But injuries and his failure to control his weight led to his departure in 2007 for AC MIlan.

In February 2008 he ruptured a tendon in his right knee playing for the club against Livorno, an injury that ended his career with the Italian club and triggered his return to Brazil where he signed for Corinthians last year after a long battle to regain form..

In 2008 Ronaldo was the centre of controversy when he was caught in the middle of a drugs and sex scandal with three transvestites after nightclubbing in Rio de Janeiro.