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Sergio Aguero — Impish striker who became a Manchester City icon


Barcelona (AFP) – Sergio Aguero ended his career with Barcelona but will forever be associated with Manchester City and in particular with the goal that won them the Premier League title in 2012.

Aguero, who announced his retirement aged 33 on Wednesday because of a heart condition, spent a decade at the English club before departing at the end of last season as their all-time top scorer with 260 goals in just under 400 appearances.

One goal stands out above all the others.

On May 13, 2012, Roberto Mancini’s City came into the final day of the Premier League season ahead of rivals Manchester United at the top of the table only on goal difference.

With United winning 1-0 at Sunderland and City losing 2-1 at home to Queens Park Rangers going into the 90th minute, it looked like a first league title since the Abu Dhabi takoever of 2008 would escape them.

But Edin Dzeko headed in the equaliser before Mario Balotelli pushed the ball into the path of Aguero to score the most dramatic of winners.

“I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again,” said Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, and the goal has gone down as arguably the most iconic moment in the history of modern English football.

There is even a 93:20 lounge at City’s Etihad Stadium in a nod to the timing of Aguero’s dramatic title-clinching winner.

Aguero, who joined City from Atletico Madrid in 2011, won five Premier League titles in total in his time at the club, as well as one FA Cup and six League Cups.

He came off the bench in last season’s Champions League final defeat against Chelsea, having fallen from favour under Pep Guardiola towards the end of his time at the Etihad Stadium.

Aguero scored 20 league goals or more in six seasons with City and is the highest overseas goal-scorer in Premier League history.

He is also the fourth-highest scorer of all time in the division with 184 goals, behind Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney and Andrew Cole.

City announced that they would build a statue to honour the Argentinian striker.

“A huge sense of satisfaction and pride remains in me for having played with Manchester City for a whole 10 seasons — unusual for a professional player in this day and age,” Aguero wrote in March when revealing his departure.

– Maradona connection –

Aguero then helped Argentina win the Copa America in Brazil in July, their first major international trophy since 1993.

He won his 100th cap in a 4-1 win over Bolivia in the group stage but played just one minute in the knockout phase and was an unused substitute in the final.

It was the second medal of his international career, though, as he also helped his country win Olympic gold alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria in Beijing in 2008.

Aguero signed a two-year deal with Barcelona in May, attracted by the prospect of teaming up with his friend Messi.

They never played together, however.

With the Catalan club in crisis, Messi departed for Paris Saint-Germain in August. 

Because of injury, Aguero didn’t appear in a Barcelona shirt until October. He played just five matches, once from the start, before being taken to hospital with breathing problems after a match against Alaves on October 30 and being diagnosed with a heart condition.

Before joining Barcelona, Aguero — whose nickname ‘Kun’ was inspired by a Japanese cartoon character — had been targeted by Argentine club Independiente.

The record seven-time Copa Libertadores winners are one of Argentina’s traditional giants and the club where he broke through as a youngster.

Aguero made his debut in the red shirt of Independiente aged just 15 in 2003 and thus surpassed the late, great Diego Maradona as the youngest player to play in the Argentine top division.

The impish forward was sold to Atletico in 2006 for a reported club record fee of over 20 million euros.

He was just 18 when he first appeared for Atletico, coming off the bench to make his La Liga debut up front with Fernando Torres.

He scored 74 La Liga goals for them, winning the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup in 2010.

Off the field, Aguero married Maradona’s daughter Gianinna, although the relationship, which produced a son, lasted only four years.

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