Former Watford goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has been forced to retire from football after being diagnosed with a heart condition during a medical at Serie A side Cagliari.
The Spaniard was found to have apical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes the heart tissue to thicken and can lead to sudden death.
A Cagliari spokesman was quoted as saying by The Guardian: “I can confirm that Manuel Almunia failed a medical due to a heart condition.
“Further tests done have revealed he is suffering from an apical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.”
The Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) added on their Twitter account: “Manuel Almunia has had to retire after being diagnosed with a heart condition. All at the PFA wish him well for the future.”
Almunia, who began his career at Osasuna in 1999 and also turned out for Celta Vigo in his native country, came to prominence in England by joining Arsenal in 2004 and went on to play 175 games for the Gunners, including the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona when he replaced red-carded Jens Lehmann.
He left the Emirates Stadium in 2012 to join Watford, where he held the captaincy and made 81 appearances during a two-year spell which involved reaching the Championship play-off final in 2013, but was released by the Hornets in June.