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SPORTS | 28-03-2019 19:12

'Pipita' Higuaín retires from national team with a dig at critics

"To the delight of many, now I will only look at it from the outside," says Chelsea striker as he calls time on Albiceleste career.

Prolific forward Gonzalo 'Pipita' Higuaín has announced his retirement from Argentina's national team, citing family reasons and offering a sly dig at his critics.

The 31-year-old Chelsea striker scored 31 goals in 75 international appearances for the Albiceleste, with his last match a 2-1 win over Nigeria in the World Cup last June.

Higuaín told Fox Sports Argentina: "My time with Argentina is over. Thinking things through in depth, my time is up. To the delight of many, now I will only look at it from the outside. I have spoken to [national team coach] Scaloni and told him my point of view. I've made the decision because I want to enjoy my family, I want to spend time with my daughter, and at the same time, I feel that I gave my country everything I could."

Higuaín, who has scored three goals in 10 appearances since joining Chelsea on loan from Juventus in January, added: "I'm fully focused on my commitment to Chelsea. The Premier League is amazing and I really want to enjoy it. It's very competitive indeed."

Higuaín, who remains high on Argentina's all-time top-scorer list, suffered a frustrating run with the national team and became something of a lightning rod for criticism. He lost three finals with the Albiceleste: the Brazil-2014 World Cup, the Copa América Chile-2015 and the Copa América Centenario USA-2016. He also suffered premature eliminations at the World Cup in South Africa-2010 and Russia-2018.

In several of those key matches, Higuaín missed crucial chances, and many critics and fans did not forgive him for it.

"To play in three finals and lose them is not a failure," he responded when asked if his international career had been a failure. 

"People remember your mistakes, not what you've accomplished. Those who attacked will have almost certainly cried for joy when I scored against Belgium to put us thought to the semi-finals [at the 2014 World Cup]. That's football."

He added: "Obviously when the criticism turns nasty it hurts everybody. I gave everything to the team. My family has suffered more than me."

Whilst his international trophy chest may be bare, at club level he won two Spanish La Liga titles with Real Madrid in 2007 and 2008 and he helped Juventus be crowned Italian champions in 2017 and 2018.

Since arriving at Stamford Bridge from Juventus on loan in January he has scored just three times in 10 appearances.

- TIMES/AFP/AP

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