Gonzalo Higuaín had scored 31 times for Argentina, three fewer than Diego Maradona, but it’s the times when he did not score that had come to define a large portion of his career. Crucial misses in three consecutive finals, World Cup 2014, Copa América 2015, and the Copa América Centenario in 2016, a hat-trick of failures by the Albiceleste, set in stone the narrative that was never too far away in his club career either — despite almost 300 career goals in professional football.
Now 31, Gonzalo had become far too old for that [shirt], far too tired of all the criticisms, far too weary of all the distractions. Yesterday, he announced his international retirement, leveling a parting shot at all the haters and trolls, who are unlikely to examine their own behaviors unfortunately because that’s not what we do in modern society.
“My time with Argentina is over. Thinking things through in depth, my time is up. To the delight of many, now I will only look at it from the outside. I have spoken to [national team coach] Scaloni and told him my point of view. I’ve made the decision because I want to enjoy my family, I want to spend time with my daughter, and at the same time, I feel that I gave my country everything I could.”
As it often happens, the criticism didn’t just affect the player himself. It’s the collateral damage that can be truly hurtful.
“To play in three finals and lose them is not a failure. People remember your mistakes, not what you’ve accomplished. Those who attacked will have almost certainly cried for joy when I scored against Belgium to put us thought to the semi-finals [at the 2014 World Cup]. That’s football.”
“Obviously when the criticism turns nasty it hurts everybody. I gave everything to the team. My family has suffered more than me.”
It’s a sour note on which one of the greatest goalscorers in Argentina’s history retires from the national team — only Messi, Batistuta, Crespo, Agüero, and Maradona had scored more — although Higuaín had not been called up since last summer’s World Cup so perhaps the writing was on the wall for some time now and this just makes things official.
Either way, he’s now fully concentrating on the next two months with Chelsea and then whatever may come next.
“I’m fully focused on my commitment to Chelsea. The Premier League is amazing and I really want to enjoy it. It’s very competitive indeed.”
-Gonzalo Higuáin; source: BA Times
Since joining on loan in January, the former top scorer in the Serie A has found the net just three times in seven league games (adding zero goals in three additional appearances in all competitions). That’s not exactly jaw-dropping, but his physical attributes are clearly on the wane even if his movement remains world class. Still time to make an impact however!