Spain defender Gerard Pique has revealed he will retire from international duty after the 2018 World Cup, citing the criticism he receives as his reason; indeed, he also claimed constant barbs levelled towards him have led him to become frustrated and ‘tired’, The Telegraph reports.
The 29-year-old has endured a strained relationship with Spain fans over the last couple of years, mainly centred around his call for Catalonia independence and his repeated criticisms of Real Madrid.
He also became a target for heavy criticism on Sunday after cutting the sleeves of his shirt – which bore the national colours – in the World Cup Qualifier against Albania.
The Barcelona star, who has 84 caps to his name, was heavily criticised for his actions in the Spanish media and social media. To the surprise of many, Pique told reporters he was quitting international football after growing ‘tired’ of the criticisms.
“Yes, I’m tired of it and the World Cup in Russia is going to be my last commitment with the Spain team and then I hope I can be left in peace,” the defender told reporters after the game.
“I cut my shirt because the sleeves were very short and they were bothering me. I’ve tried everything but I can’t take it any more, the thing with the sleeve is the straw that has broken the camel’s back.”
Pique, who will be 31 when the World Cup in Russia ends, has won every major international title with Spain but he insists the critics have stopped him from enjoying his time in international football.
“They have succeeded in killing my joy in playing for Spain and even though, after Russia, I’ll only be 31, I’m going to quit then,” added Pique.
“I have always tried to give everything but while some people appreciate that others don’t want me here.”