Javier Mascherano has announced his retirement from football after a glittering 17-year career across South America and Europe.
The 36 year old defensive midfielder returned to his homeland in January to join Estudiantes until the end of the season but has now called time on his career.
Mascherano started his professional career with Argentine giants River Plate in 2003 and spent a year in Brazil with Corinthians before making the move to the Premier League.
Mascherano had a brief spell at West Ham and then three years at Liverpool before he joined Barcelona, where he enjoyed the most successful spell of his career.
He won five La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns at Camp Nou, then joined Chinese club, Hebei China Fortune.
He then came back to Argentina in January 2020.
Speaking at a press conference, Mascherano said: “It is time to finish my career because of things that happened to me in recent months, that on a personal level and after having thought about it for all this time, the most correct thing is to finish today.
“I have lived my profession 100 per cent, I gave the best I could and today I find that it has been difficult for me for a while and I do not want to disrespect Estudiantes, who trusted me to return to Argentina, or my colleagues, or this profession.
“It does not have to do with the club or with a result, but with feelings that one is feeling over recent times, which make the illusion that one had of being a footballer fade.
“Post pandemic, I thought that I was going to feel the spark again, but the truth is that I could not. Out of respect for everyone, it is time to step aside and end this race. I didn’t want to let time go by.
“I am infinitely grateful to the clubs I played for, the team-mates I had throughout my career and to Estudiantes who gave me the opportunity to come and play in recent times. It was less than I expected, things happened this way and sometimes you don’t choose the end.
“I thank [coach Leandro] Desabato, the institution and my colleagues for having put up with me this last time.”