Barcelona defender Gerard Pique confirmed on Saturday that he is retiring from International football despite former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique appointed as Spain’s new coach after the sacking of Julen Lopetegui, who now manages Real Madrid.
Pique made the announcement ahead of Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup match against Sevilla and said that he wants to focus his remaining years playing football with Barcelona. He said in a news conference, “I spoke to Luis Enrique a few days ago. He called me and I told him the decision was taken a long time ago and that I had thought about it carefully.”
“It was a beautiful time with the national team in which I had the chance to win the World Cup and the European Championship. Now I want to focus on Barca,” he said. “I have a few years left here and I’m going to enjoy them a lot.”
Pique’s retirement announcement does not come as a surprise as he had made a statement back in October 2016 that he would quit International football after the FIFA World Cup 2018, held in Russia. He had said that he was tired of repeated criticism and wished to be ‘left in peace’.
The 31-year-old, who has been outspoken about his support for Catalan independence, never enjoyed the same rapport with Spanish fans, who consistently booed him during practice sessions.
Pique has represented Spain 102 times, playing for the national teams at two European Championships and three World Cups. He was also part of the World Cup winning team in 2010 and European champions in 2012.