October 10 – Spanish international defender Gerard Piqué says the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be his final tournament with the national team because he feels he is no longer wanted.
The Barcelona defender made the announcement after Spain’s 2-0 win at Albania on Sunday in European qualifying for 2018. “I always give everything I have on the field, but there are people who think it’s better if I’m not here,” Piqué said. “After Russia, a stage will have ended for me.”
Pique is frequently jeered by many Spaniards because of his pro-Catalonia stance and recently appeared to support a pro-independence move by the Catalan region.
On Sunday he cut the sleeves of his kit instead of changing into the short sleeves which have the colours of the Spanish flag. He said the long sleeves were bothering him.
“It’s not a ‘heat of the moment’ decision, I’ve given a lot of thought to this,” said the Barcelona 29-year-old. “It’s not because of what happened today, it’s because I always give my best on the field and, although there are some people who have thanked me, some don’t think it’s OK for me to be here.”
“I’ll be 31, I’ve won everything with the national team. I’ll try to play my 100th game with the team, and I want to win the World Cup again, which is the most important thing.”
Piqué helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship. With Barcelona, he won six Spanish league titles, as well as three club World Cups and three Champions Leagues. “Life goes on,” he said. “I still want to be with Barcelona for several years.”
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