Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona defender Gerard Pique insists he will not reverse his decision to retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup.
Pique announced his intention to leave La Roja after having to demonstrate he did not cut the colours of the Spanish flag off his kit during a 2-0 win in Albania last week.
The absurd incident was the latest in a string of accusations concerning Pique’s commitment to play for Spain due to his outspoken calls for a referendum on Catalan independence.
“The decision is final. Events in Albania brought it forward, I didn’t want to say it at that time, but I came out annoyed by the story that was proven to be false and felt I had to say it.”
Pique was routinely jeered when playing for the national team on home soil in the build-up to Euro 2016 in part for his political views, but also for his role is stoking the fierce rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
However, after winning the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012 with Spain, he insisted his decision to retire after the World Cup is not due to the treatment he has received.
“I have taken the decision myself because if we qualify I will have been playing with the national team for 10 years, I will be 31, and the time will be right,” he added on Tuesday.
“It is the best option, to step to one side and give the new generation the chance to occupy the space I have.”
Pique even revealed he nearly retired from football completely after the 2014 World Cup due to a lack of motivation.
“After the 2014 World Cup I didn’t have the desire to keep going,” he continued.
“It was a question of motivation, possibly because I won everything very young.”