Former Chelsea and Brazil midfielder Ramires has announced his retirement.

The 35-year-old had been without a club since leaving Palmeiras in November 2020, and after a period of "reflection", the 52-time Brazil international decided to call it quits for good.

Ramires came through the ranks at Joinville before establishing himself with Cruzeiro, where his form earned a move to Europe and Benfica in 2009.

He spent just one season in Portugal before securing a big-money switch to Chelsea, with whom he enjoyed the most successful spell of his career.

Ramires had five and a half years at Stamford Bridge and won every domestic trophy once, while he also won the Champions League and Europa League before departing for Jiangsu Suning of the Chinese Super League.

Announcing his decision in a post on Instagram, Ramires said: "After some time of reflection, I would like to announce that I have decided to officially end my career as a professional football player.

"At this point, I can only thank God first, for he has trained and led me to the highest levels that sport can offer. Thank you very much also to all the clubs I've passed through, Palmeiras, Chelsea, Benfica, Cruzeiro, Jiangsu and Joinville. I will always carry you and your fans in my heart.

"Gratitude also to the Brazilian national team for having provided me the pleasure of playing two World Cups, which was the realisation of a dream.

"I'm thankful also to all the team-mates, staff, coaches and managers that I had the pleasure of working with.

"To my relatives, mother, children, brothers and true friends, thank you so much for being by my side unconditionally all these years, for celebrating each achievement of mine as if it were yours. You've always been my greatest strength and motivation.

"I'm going to go in other directions, but with the same happiness and courage I've had since I was a child, when, against all expectations, I left my city in the interior of Rio de Janeiro to see the world. Thanks for everything, football!"

Ronaldo has tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss Sunday's anniversary celebrations of Cruzeiro, the Brazilian club he recently bought.

The two-time Ballon d'Or winner, who top-scored in Brazil's 2002 World Cup triumph, has been experiencing mild symptoms of the coronavirus.

Ronaldo had been due to attend events marking Cruzeiro's 101st anniversary, but the 45-year-old former Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter striker was instead isolating.

His positive case was announced by the Brazilian club, who were acquired by Ronaldo, with the support of an investment bank, in December.

"Cruzeiro reports that this Sunday morning Ronaldo Nazario tested positive for COVID-19," the Campeonato Serie B club said.

"This makes it impossible for him to travel to Belo Horizonte today, as well as his presence in the commemorative actions for the club's anniversary.

"Ronaldo is doing well, with mild symptoms and, on medical advice, is now in rest and social isolation."

Ronaldo has been majority owner of Spanish club Real Valladolid since 2018 and serves as the Segunda Division team's president. He had been due to meet with representatives of Cruzeiro supporters on Sunday and was scheduled to appear at a news conference on Monday before taking ill.

He began his playing career at Cruzeiro as a teenage sensation before heading to Europe to join Dutch giants PSV after the 1994 World Cup.

Ronaldo wrote on Twitter: "Cruzeiro nation, this is not the way I wanted to spend this January 2 which is more than special for us.

"I had the greatest anticipation and everything was organised for this moment. But there are situations in life that are beyond our control and, unfortunately, last night I found myself in one of them. I started to feel bad, had a PCR and woke up today with a positive result for COVID-19.

"The most important thing is that I am vaccinated, I will follow the isolation protocols and, at the end of it, I hope to be 100 per cent recovered to resume my schedule.

"Our meeting was not cancelled, it was postponed due to circumstances. And I make a point of celebrating with you the anniversary of our club! It's just the beginning of our fight together! I count on you, count on me."

Veteran head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has left Cruzeiro after steering them to safety in Brazil's Serie B.

Cruzeiro were shockingly relegated from the top flight for the first time in their history in 2019, and in October appointed World Cup-winning coach Scolari on a contract until the end of 2022.

When the 72-year-old took over, the four-time Brazilian champions were second-bottom due to a poor start and a six-point deduction after being found guilty of an unpaid transfer debt by FIFA.

A seven-game unbeaten run at the start of Scolari's tenure got them out of the relegation zone but back-to-back defeats to Oeste and Juventude this month put them back in danger of dropping into Serie C.

A 2-1 victory over Operario-PR last week finally secured their safety, and Scolari has subsequently stepped down.

A club statement read: "Cruzeiro Esporte Clube and Luiz Felipe Scolari mutually decided to finish the second passage of the multi-champion coach.

"Collaborating with the club in the most challenging moment in its history, Scolari and his coaching staff fulfilled the important mission of maintaining Cruzeiro in Serie B, having led the team in 21 matches and accumulating nine wins, eight draws and four defeats.

"Cruzeiro is grateful and recognises all the work, dedication and professionalism of Felipao and his staff for the club at this important moment, and wishes luck and happiness to the world champion coach and his staff."

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