Former Brazil international Gilberto Silva has confirmed he is to retire from football at the age of 39, having spent two years out of the game due to a serious knee injury.
Gilberto won the 2002 World Cup and 2007 Copa America with his country as well as two Confederations Cup titles.
He also spent six years at Arsenal and was a key part of Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ side that won the Premier League title unbeaten in the 2003-04 season.
“As of today, I’ve called time on my career as an athlete. It’s a difficult decision,” Gilberto said in a statement.
“Worldwide, we do not ask to be born. When we are born, we do not want to die. I’ve heard a phrase that says footballers dies twice. I disagree. I think the football player dies once, and makes a transition from the field to a new stage. For me, it’s a time of transition, not a first death.
“No matter how painful it may be – it’s a moment that could be seen as a sad, difficult time – but I see it with great joy. I’ve enjoyed 20 years of great joy. That’s what it has been for me and my family.”
Gilberto won the 2004 Premier League title and two FA Cups at Arsenal, while he was also a runner-up in the Champions League while at the club.
After leaving Arsenal in 2008 he won a league title with Panathinaikos before returning to Brazil, where he won the 2013 Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro.
“I’ve spent the last two years on the sidelines preparing myself for a new stage of my life and I did not know when the time would come [to retire]. It is time to make the transition,” Gilberto said.
“These last few weeks I’ve been in London visiting Arsenal, my old club. I realised a nifty way to continue in football in a different way, that is as an international consultant working with clubs and athletes. I will do a job using what I have learned.
“We can all contribute to football. We want a better future for the fans. A lot of people in the game are killing the passion for football, and they need to be punished.
“Children have to go to matches to cheer and support without being suspicious. I’ve never seen so much corruption in the game as there is today. That has to change and I will never fail to share my opinion.”