FORMER Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has been forced to temporarily stop playing football due to a heart problem.
The Brazilian, 35, spent 15 years in Europe before returning to boyhood club Gremio this year.
Action Images – ReutersEx-Liverpool ace Leiva has a heart problem[/caption]
Lucas has missed Gremio’s pre-season after a heart problem was detected in routine screening.
And he has been forced to quit football indefinitely until tests are fully completed.
He tweeted an official statement on Tuesday which read: “The Medical Department of Gremio reports that the athlete Lucas Leiva presented, in the routine examinations of the pre-season, a picture of change in heart rhythm being, consequently, removed from physical activities until the completion of complementary tests and treatment of the condition.”
Lucas, capped 24 times for Brazil, played 346 times for the Reds across his decade on Merseyside, winning the League Cup in 2012.
He also played at centre-back for the Reds and at times captained the team under Jurgen Klopp.
German Klopp went as far as to describe Lucas as “a friend”.
He said in tribute to the departing midfielder: “Things change but Lucas is a special case.
“He asked for [to leave]. I would say he’s a friend. He’s a fantastic person.
“How I know and how he knows, he has a few issues when he’s not playing! But we always had a very respectful understanding.
“It was really good. When he left, we both had a little tear in our eye. It was really a special moment.
“For the team, it’s difficult. It’s the age and it’s life. He could sign a long-term contract in Rome and how can I say: ‘You stay here, but I don’t know if you sign a new contract and I don’t know how often you will play next year’.
“So you need to be honest, especially with a player like him.
“He loves Liverpool. It’s unbelievable. He comes from Brazil – it’s a nice country and the weather is much better.
“He could imagine staying in Liverpool for the rest of his life.”
Lucas left Liverpool in 2017 and spent five years at Italian side Lazio, where he won the Coppa Italia.
Lucas is the latest high profile footballer, who has played in the Premier League, that has had to take a step back from football in recent years due to heart problems.
Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed at Euro 2020 while playing for Denmark.
The playmaker DIED for five minutes but was eventually revived after having a cardiac arrest.
Manchester City legend Sergio Aguero was forced to permanently retire last year.
The Argentine had just joined Barcelona when he felt discomfort in his chest during a game against Alaves.
Testing later diagnosed Aguero with a cardiac arrhythmia and he stepped back from football.