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    Ex-Germany striker Gómez goes out with a goal and promotion

    STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — Former Germany striker Mario Gomez retired from soccer on Sunday after scoring in his last game for Stuttgart.

    Gomez, who turns 35 in July, joked that he was in negotiations with Real Madrid and Barcelona before saying he had fulfilled his final wish. That was to help Stuttgart secure an immediate return to the Bundesliga after one season in the second division.

    Stuttgart finished runner-up on Sunday, 10 points behind already promoted Arminia Bielefeld, despite a 3-1 loss at home to Darmstadt.

    ”It was my last mission for Stuttgart after we messed up last year,” Gomez said, referring to the club’s relegation in 2019.

    Gomez was one of the best German forwards of his time, winning the Bundesliga title in 2007 in his first stint at Stuttgart, then two more with Bayern Munich which he joined in 2009. He also won the Champions League in Bayern’s treble-winning season in 2013 before he left for Fiorentina. After two seasons in Italy Gomez joined Besiktas to win the Turkish league title in 2016.

    Gomez scored 19 goals in 52 games for Wolfsburg before rejoining Stuttgart in 2017.

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    Altogether he scored 170 goals in 328 Bundesliga games, seven in the second division, and 26 in 36 German Cup matches.

    Gomez also scored 26 goals in 44 Champions League games.

    ”I’m very grateful for the time I had at Stuttgart,” Gomez said. ”It was always my biggest dream to give something back and to end my career that I couldn’t have imagined here.”

    Gomez missed Germany’s World Cup win in 2014 due to an injury-blighted season. He scored 31 goals in 78 appearances for the national team.

    More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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