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Gerard Pique announces his retirement from International Football

Arnav Gupta
376   //    12 Aug 2018, 16:35 IST

Spain v Czech Republic - Group D: UEFA Euro 2016

The 31-year-old Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has announced his retirement from the international football. He made the announcement ahead of his club’s match against Sevilla in the Supercopa de EspañaIn and in one of his interview, he said: "It was a lovely time with the national team, but now I want to focus on Barcelona".

Pique had confirmed earlier in the year that he would end his international career after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He had already told Enrique that he will not represent Spain anymore. It was expected to quit Spain after the World Cup exit. He was also a part of the squad during which Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2012 European Cup. He has earned 102 caps for his national team Spain. Pique has joined his former teammate Andres Iniesta, who has also announced his retirement after getting eliminated from the Round of 16 form the hosts Russia. Iniesta, who already made it clear before the start of the World Cup that this is will be his final tournament with Spain. Spanish fans criticised the Barcelona defender Pique for the World Cup exit because he conceded a penalty which resulted in a 1-1 draw and further Russia knocked out Spain in the shootouts. He was tired of repeated criticism from the supporters and the media and also his fans used to criticise him very badly when he was with the national team because of comments about Real Madrid and because he supports a referendum on Catalan independence. So he wanted "to be left in peace".

During the World Cup Qualifiers in 2016, Pique was accused of removing Spanish colours from his shirt. Pique then insisted that him cutting off the sleeves was for comfort but not a political move. The 31-year old centre back went with his words and hence announced his international retirement before the start of a new season with Barcelona.

He played his first international match in 2009 in a friendly game against England. The Spanish side won the match 2-0. Later, in the FIFA World Cup (2010) qualifier match against Turkey in 2009, he scored the only goal. He was called up as a replacement for the injured Carles Puyol. His defensive partnership with Carles Puyol was key to Spain's success. Pique appeared in almost every match of Spain in the 2010 World Cup. After that, he married the Colombian singer Shakira. They met each other when Pique appeared in her song video "Waka-Waka (This time for Africa)", which was the 2010 FIFA World Cup official song. He also played and won the 2012 Euro Cup and in which he also scored a goal in the shootouts of the semi-final match against Portugal. He played an integral role in the Spain team.

Barcelona, who won the Spanish double last season, will take on Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup in Tanger, Morocco, on Sunday at Grande Stade de Tanger.

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