Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz announced his retirement from football on Wednesday, a day after finding out he needs a hip replacement that will keep him from continuing to perform as an athlete.
The 39-year-old Aduriz said on Twitter his “body has said ‘enough’” and that the “time has come” for him to end his career.
He said doctors on Tuesday told him to go see a surgeon “sooner rather than later” to get a prosthetic hip replacement that will allow him to go about his "everyday life as normally as possible.”
“I can't help my teammates the way I would like to, nor the way that they deserve,” he said in a statement. “That is the life of a professional athlete. Simple, very simple.”
Aduriz, who also played for Spanish clubs Valladolid, Mallorca and Valencia, leaves Athletic as the club's sixth-highest scorer with 172 goals. He was a member of Spain's squad at the 2016 European Championship in France.
Aduriz's retirement — after a career of nearly two decades — means he will miss the team’s much-anticipated Copa del Rey final against Basque Country rival Real Sociedad, which is yet to be rescheduled after being suspended in April because of the coronavirus pandemic. The game could be delayed until next year as both clubs want to play the final when fans are allowed back into stadiums.
“Unfortunately, we are living through situations much more grim and painful; the pandemic that we are suffering from has left us with irreparable damage and we have to keep fighting it, together,” he said. “Therefore, I don't want you to worry about me, this is just an anecdote. Let's forget about the final we dreamed about, because we will have time to say goodbye.”
Athletic said Aduriz will be remembered as one of the club's “most charismatic strikers on and off the field."
He scored four goals over the two legs of the 2015 Spanish Super Cup final in which Athletic defeated Lionel Messi's Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate to win the title.
Aduriz's last goal as a professional was a remarkable 89th-minute volley that allowed Athletic to beat Barcelona 1-0 last year in the first game of this season’s Spanish league.
“This is how the road ends for me — unforgettable and marvelous, from beginning to end,” Aduriz said. “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”