After nearly 10 years of suiting up for Argentina, Gonzalo Higuain announced on 28 March that he has retired from international competition.
The 31-year-old forward, who plays his club football for Chelsea, leaves La Albiceleste with 32 goals scored and appearances in three separate editions of the FIFA World Cup™: South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018. Argentina reached the 2014 World Cup Final, suffering a narrow defeat to champions Germany in extra time.
“I think that it is over, thinking things through in depth, my time is up,” Higuain told Fox Sports. “I want to enjoy my family and my time. You can now stop worrying about whether I am there or not.”
El Pipita revealed that he had spoken recently with Argentina’s head coach, Lionel Scaloni, but turned down the possibility of being called into his national team.
Born in Brest, France, Higuain’s father played football for the local club. When presented with the opportunity to represent France at the end of 2006 by head coach Raymond Domenech, Higuain declined, citing his preference to represent Argentina.
In 2009 he made his international debut, scoring for Argentina during a vital World Cup qualification match against Peru. La Albiceleste would go on to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa under Diego Maradona.
Higuain would make 75 total appearances for Argentina, which included the three World Cups and three Copa Americas. In addition to Argentina’s second-place finish at Brazil 2014, they were also runners-up at the 2015 and 2016 Copa America.
In a football-obsessed nation, coming so close to glory without achieving it made Higuain and his team-mates subject to criticism.
“We lacked more belief in our game, to be more convincing,” he reflected. “But nobody is going to value the process you achieved to reach the finals. We reached the final, we lost and we went back to another final. We suffered and then we reached another final.
“I do not know if there are many teams that have battled to reach another final after all the criticism.”
Higuain retires as his country’s six-highest goalscorer ever. His strike in the Brazil 2014 quarter-finals against Belgium propelled Argentina to the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 24 years.
“When one is criticized badly, everyone hurts,” Higuain said. “I have enjoyed the national team. People remember what you miss, not what you put in.
“Everyone who criticized the mistakes also celebrated that goal against Belgium.”