Gerard Pique Announces Retirement From International Football

Football Soccer - Italy v Spain - World Cup 2018 Qualifier - Juventus stadium, Turin, Italy - 06/10/16. Italy's Leonardo Bonucci in action against Spain's Gerard Pique. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini - RTSR3EJ

REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Gerard Pique has announced that he will retire from international football after the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.

Pique announced his shock retirement after Spain’s 2-0 victory over Albania on Sunday.

The game saw the defender involved in yet another controversy, as his jersey’s sleeves, bearing the national team colours, appeared to have been cut off. Pique has defended himself, saying he only cut off his sleeves as they were annoying him. However, the accusations being thrown his way are due to outspoken stance on being ‘pro-Catalonia’.

Pique has had a stellar career with Spain, winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships alongside the 2010 World Cup. He is regarded as one of the greatest players to have ever played for the Spanish national team, and his announcement will no doubt be a big blow to nation.

Pique said: “The 2018 World Cup in Russia will be my last appearance for the Spanish national team.

“I’ve thought about it a lot. This isn’t a spur of the moment decision. There are people who think it’s better if I’m not here.”

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The Spanish Football Federation leaped to the defence of the 29-year-old following the ‘sleevegate’ incident, claiming that Pique used the long-sleeve version of the Spain jersey, which does not have the national colours on them as opposed to the short-sleeve version.

The Spanish Football Association released a statement to clarify the situation, which read: “The Spanish Football Federation wants to show their support for Gerard Pique.

“Contrary to some malicious comments that the Spanish player cut his sleeves to avoid wearing a top with the national colours, the RFEF wishes to clarify that the colours only exist in the Adidas short-sleeve shirt, and not in the long sleeves, which is what Pique used.

“This can be seen on the shirt of his partner Sergio Ramos, who also uses long sleeves. The player cut sleeves with the sole purpose of playing more comfortable, like other international have done on many occasions.”

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