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Soccer: Higuain announces Argentina retirement

(Reuters) - Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuain has retired from the Argentina national team with immediate effect, ending an eventful international career which included three losing major final appearances.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - Group D - Nigeria vs Argentina - Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia - June 26, 2018 Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain celebrates after the match REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

“My cycle with the national team is over, now I’m watching things from the outside, to the joy of many people,” Higuain said in an interview with Fox Sports on Thursday.

“I spoke with (Argentina coach Lionel) Scaloni and gave him my point of view, the decision has been taken, it’s what I think is the best thing for me.”

The 31-year-old made 75 appearances for Argentina, scoring 31 goals. His last appearance was in the 2-1 win over Nigeria in the 2018 World Cup.

Higuain, who joined Chelsea on loan from AC Milan in January, began his career with River Plate and has since played for Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus.

Yet he has had to shoulder fierce criticism for his performances with Argentina.

The striker missed a clear opportunity to open the scoring in the 2014 World Cup final, which Argentina lost to Germany.

He also spurned a goalscoring chance in the 2015 Copa America final against Chile and missed a penalty in the shootout which his side lost.

He also performed disappointingly in the 2016 Copa America Centenario final against Chile, where his side also lost on penalties.

Higuain defended his performances for his country and pointed to his goal in the 1-0 win over Belgium in the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals.

“People remember the goals I missed and not the ones I scored. I’m sure everyone celebrated the goal against Belgium,” he said.

“When you criticise someone maliciously it hurts everyone. I saw how much my family suffered, but I gave everything for the national team.

“It’s one thing to say that the national team did not achieve our objectives, but when people talk about failure it’s very hard.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis