Fri, 01 Jul 2022

CSKA Moscow defender Mario Fernandes announced the news on Wednesday

Footballer Mario Fernandes - the Brazilian-born defender who starred for Russia at the 2018 World Cup after being granted citizenship - has announced that he is "putting his career on hold" and will return to Brazil.

Club team CSKA Moscow shared the news with a message from Fernandes after rumors this week that he would be returning to Brazil at the conclusion of the Russian Premier League season this weekend.

"I would like to thank God for these wonderful 10 years spent in Russia," read a statement from Fernandes, who has made 328 appearances for CSKA, helping them win three league titles as well as the Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup.

"I would also like to thank all our beloved fans for their great respect for me and the warmth they have always given me.

"But lately I have been feeling a colossal, accumulated fatigue and great exhaustion, and I can no longer give everything that I always gave for the benefit of CSKA in past years," added the 31-year-old, who moved to Russia from Brazilian club Gremio in 2012.  

"I've been playing football professionally for 13 years, of which I spent 10 years at PFC CSKA. It's time to be with my family. As you probably already know, this year we will have a son."

Fernandes - affectionately dubbed 'Super Mario' by fans - said he would not rule out returning to Russia "if I realize I still have the strength to play for CSKA" and stressed that the decision was not related to "recent events in the world."  

"I met with the president of the club Evgeny Giner and the general director Roman Babaev, explained to them everything that was on my mind and asked them to allow me to spend some time with my family in Brazil," said Fernandes.

"I am very grateful to them for the fact that they treated my request with understanding and agreed to let me go, communicating with me as with a son," added Fernandes, who is under contract at 'The Army Men' until the summer of 2024.  

CSKA general director Babaev said the departure of the marauding right back would be "a serious loss."

"We managed to convince Mario not to hurry with the final decision on retirement and agree on a suspension of the contract. I emphasize that we hope that after a short rest, Mario will miss football, our family and return home," said Babaev.

Fernandes was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin back in 2016 and went on to make 33 appearances for the national team, scoring five times.

He was an integral part of Russia's shock run to the World Cup quarterfinals on home soil in 2018.

Fernandes netted a memorable headed equalizer against Croatia in extra-time of their last eight clash before Russia suffered agony in the penalty shootout, with the defender dragging his spot-kick wide.

READ MORE: Croatia 2-2 (4-3 pens) Russia: Croatia through to semis with pulsating penalties win over hosts

Fernandes, who had made an appearance for Brazil in 2014 before switching allegiances, announced last September that he was retiring from international football, thanking fans for their support and describing the Russia World Cup as "the most amazing month of my career."

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