| Donato has finally decided to call it a day
Madrid: Brazilian-born Spain international Donato has finally decided to hang up his boots just a month before his 41st birthday.
The central defender, who has been out of work since his contract with Deportivo La Coruna expired at the end of last season, chalked up a total of 466 league appearances in 15 seasons in the Primera Liga.
Known as “granddad” by his teammates, Donato said his decision to retire was influenced by the fact that his eldest daughter is due to give birth to his first grandchild this week.
“Now I will be called ‘granddad’ for the right reason,” he said. “For the sake of my grandchild and my family I have decided to stay in La Coruna and retire from the game and I will now be looking for something else to do.”
Now a naturalised Spanish citizen, Donato first came to the country in 1988 when he signed for Atletico Madrid as a midfielder from Brazilian side Vasco da Gama.
During his five-year spell in the capital he helped Atletico to back-to-back victories in the King’s Cup and made his name as one of the most accomplished allrounders in the country.
Atletico decided to off-load him to Deportivo in 1993 in the belief that at the age of 30 he was nearing the end of his career, but were left kicking themselves when his career took off again as a central defender at the Galician club.
He made his debut for Spain at the age of 31 in the 3-0 win over Denmark in November 1994 and went on to win a total of 12 caps while Javier Clemente was at the helm.
But the highlight of his 23-year-long career came in the 1999-2000 season when he played a key role in Deportivo’s first League championship triumph.
“I have been training for a couple of weeks with local third division side Arteixo, but my knee was hurting a bit,” Donato told sports daily Marca on Wednesday.
“My grandchild will be arriving soon and he will now become my main priority. I will still have a kick around with my mates though.”