Ronaldo leaves hospital and admits career may be over

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The Milan striker Ronaldo is unsure whether his career is at an end after rupturing a tendon in his left knee. "Physically it will be difficult and mentally it will be very difficult," Ronaldo said as he left hospital yesterday.

Medical staff said the operation went well but that it was too early to say whether the 31-year-old would return. "I have not decided what should be done," Ronaldo said. "My will is to keep on playing. My heart tells me this, but my body is showing me signs that it's tired, that it is asking for rest."

The thrice Fifa world player of the year was injured in Milan's 1-1 draw with Livorno in Serie A last week. He will not be able to play again for at least eight or nine months.

"If, at the end, I am back in shape physically and I can play, so much the better," he added. "Otherwise, it will be a difficult decision to take, but that will be the decision. But my dream is to finish my career with [Brazil's] Flamengo."

Ronaldo, the leading scorer in World Cup history with 15 goals, has played only sporadically since joining Milan a little more than a year ago, but he scored nine Serie A goals in 16 starts and showed signs of an instinctive understanding with Milan's 18-year-old Brazilian, Alexandre Pato.