New Delhi: Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano has announced that he will retire from international football following the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The 33-year-old who now plays as a defender for both club and country will be celebrating his 34th birthday a month prior to the tournament in July and intends to quit international duty after it. Talking to TyC Sports after Argentina’s 3-1 victory over Ecuador in their final World Cup qualifer match, courtesy a Leo Messi magic Mascherano said, “My cycle with the national team ends in Russia. It’s very clear to me that that will be it. There’s nothing after that.”
He also added that, “I will try in the next six to seven months to prepare myself to be there although the decision is taken by the coach and it will be him [Jorge Sampaoli] to decide whether I go Russia or not.”
The veteran has already made 139 appearances for Argentina since his debut in 2003 and is just four shy of equalling Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti’s record of most appearances for the national team.
The Barcelona man despite all the success in his club career, is however yet to win any major trophy with the senior national team. With his biggest achievements being the 2014 world Cup final loss in Brazil and the Copa America finals in 2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016.
El Jefecito has however won two Olympic golds with Argentina in 2004 and 2008, making him only the second Argentine after Juan Nelson (Polo player) to win two Olympics gold medals.
If he is indeed selected for the 2018 World Cup squad it will be his fourth participation in a world Cup and ninth overall international tournament participation for Argentina. He also had the honour of captaining the national team in the 2010 World Cup, where La Albiceleste were knocked by Germany in the quarter-finals.
He would hope that he can help his team earn World Cup glory after the heart-breaking defeat against Germany in the final in 2014.
Almost going out of the context he opined, “I don’t have that many things in my life I still want to do. Playing in a World Cup and trying to get back to the final is one of them.”