Luis Suarez and Coutinho lead former Liverpool player tributes to Lucas Leiva

With Lucas Leiva retiring from football at 36 following a heart problem, Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho have all paid tribute.

Lucas had been unable to train since December, with routine fitness checks during pre-season with Gremio discovering an irregularity in his heart.

After three months of recovery and further tests, the decision was made that Lucas would need to retire from professional football, telling journalists in a press conference on Friday that “my health comes first.”

The midfielder then went on to acknowledge his three clubs – Gremio, Liverpool and Lazio – along with his family, coaches, team-mates and supporters, for their role in his long career.

And the news of Lucas’ retirement was met with both pride and sadness from those close to him, including Suarez, who joined him at Gremio in December.

“Friend, congratulations on your wonderful career!” he wrote on Twitter.

“We will always be supporting you and your family. Success for everything that comes, that will be better for sure!”

As one of the first Brazilian players to make the move to Anfield – and a veteran in the squad by the time they arrived – Lucas played a key role in the likes of Coutinho and Roberto Firmino settling at the club.

Coutinho made 101 appearances alongside his compatriot with Liverpool and Brazil, and took to Instagram to praise him as a “winner on and off the pitch.”

“My brother, what an honour and pleasure to have played with you. Always been an example to me. Winner on and off the pitch,” he wrote.

“May you have much success and be very happy in this new stage of your life. I love you, Captain.

Suarez and Coutinho were joined by Steven Gerrard, Martin Skrtel and Jose Enrique in hailing Lucas’ career on their Instagram stories.

So too did current Liverpool loanee Arthur – who broke through at Gremio after Lucas’ departure – and another former team-mate, Dani Pacheco.

“Congratulations on the beautiful career, Lucas. Example for everyone,” Arthur wrote.

“May your path remain enlightened as it always was!”

Pacheco’s message read: “Congratulations on your career Lucas, very happy to have met you and your wife.

“Complete footballer and incredible person. Wish you all the best.”

A lengthy post from Lucas on Instagram, confirming his retirement, was met with similar responses, with the likes of Adam Lallana, Ryan Babel and Simon Mignolet all paying tribute.

“Wonderful career Luquinha! Congratulations!” Fabio Aurelio wrote.

“You’ll certainly continue to be victorious whatever the choice for the next step is, because that’s you! Health and success always!”

Jay Spearing added: “What a career amigo! Good luck with everything that comes next!”

A statement from the club concluded: “Everyone connected to Liverpool FC would like to wish Lucas the very best in his next chapter.”