Former Hornets goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has been forced to retire from professional football due to a heart problem.

The Spaniard, who was released by Watford at the end of last season, was set to sign a contract with Italian club Cagliari but doctors discovered a cardiac issue during his medical which has ended the 37-year-old's career. 

Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini told "He has been diagnosed with Apical Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

"It was first picked up at Cagliari and then confirmed in Padua, where the player had a scan. It can be dangerous and can cause sudden death."

Apical Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart tissue that can cause it to thicken which can lead to, especially for sportsmen, Sudden Cardiac Death.

Almunia joined the Hornets in 2012 after spending eight years with Premier League side Arsenal.

He went on to make 81 appearances for the Hornets and was named club captain at the start of the 2013/2014 season.

However, he left Vicarage Road at the end of that campaign after his contract with the Golden Boys expired.

While there has been no official comment from Almunia, the The Professional Footballers' Association tweeted: "Manuel Almunia has had to retire after being diagnosed with a heart condition. All at the PFA wish him well for the future."