(CNN Spanish) — Gerard Piqué announced his retirement from football a few weeks before the start of the World Cup, amid the controversy caused by his separation from Shakira, and before the Spain squad for Qatar 2022 was announced.
The former FC Barcelona defender, who played his last game with the azulgrana on November 5 at the Camp Nou, was on Luis Enrique Martínez’s pre-list, as the Spanish team’s technical director himself admitted after being questioned by the Efe agency.
“Piqué was on the shortlist because when I give it to him he is active, he is a professional and one of the best centre-backs,” said Martínez, surprised by the Catalan’s decision.
“I have always said that after Barça there would be no other team. And so it will be. This Saturday will be my last game at the Camp Nou. I will become one more culé”, Piqué said in a video that he published on his social networks to announce his retirement from football. “And you already know me. Sooner or later I’ll be back,” he finished.
Piqué played in 3 World Cups: South Africa 2010, where he was champion; Brazil 2014, and Russia 2018. Why didn’t you go to Qatar 2022?
The reasons for Piqué’s absence in Qatar 2022
Beyond his decision to retire from football at the time he did so, the truth is that Piqué has not played with the Spain team by his own decision since the 2018 World Cup in Russia ended.
“I’ve tried everything but I can’t take it anymore, today with the sleeves is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. They have made me lose the illusion of coming here and although after Russia I will only be 31 years old, I will leave it,” he told the regarding the footballer, tired of the constant comments that questioned his commitment to the national team. He then had been involved in a controversy for cutting the sleeves of the shirt to play more comfortable in a match against Albania.
Two years later, Piqué supposedly had the intention of playing again with the Spanish team for the Tokyo Olympics, according to the audios released by the Spanish press in which he is heard, according to the newspaper The confidential, ask the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation for help to return, something that CNN cannot independently verify. But this did not happen.
After announcing the list of summoned for the World Cup in Qatar 2022, Luis Enrique admitted that the Catalan was included in the pre-list of 55 players that all the teams must send, of which 26 are finally chosen and in which Piqué did not appear . The reason for not including him, according to the technical director, has to do with his goal of “giving continuity” to the team, with the players who made Spain’s qualification for the World Cup possible in the last two years.
“I remember seeing him finish last season at Barça playing injured, sacrificing himself for his club and performing at a very high level. He is a competitive machine, or he was, I thought of him not as the first option because the line was to continue, now reinforce all the players who in two years have led us to the World Cup,” Luis Enrique told the Efe news agency.
But the selector also recognized that Piqué’s situation at FC Barcelona was not the best. “Within the list of 55 there are more veteran players with whom I would never have any doubts. Then his reality has changed because he lives in a different situation at his club, totally anomalous and I cannot control that. I focus on the best for the selection”, said Luis Enrique.
The 35-year-old player —who achieved great success with the Catalan (3 European Champions Leagues, 8 Spanish Leagues, 7 Copas del Rey, 3 Club World Cups, 3 European Super Cups, 6 Spanish Super Cups)— was going through moments complicated within the club after the coach, Xavi Hernández, told him that his role in the team was going to change after a season marked by the injuries he suffered.
“The sensations from the beginning of the season were not the best in general terms. I have always said that when I didn’t feel important I would leave it and the fact that there were injuries in my position made me delay this a bit,” Piqué admitted in an interview on the Ibai Llanos Twitch channel, a youtuber and Spanish sports presenter who has 11 million followers on the platform streaming.
This was said by the Catalan after announcing that he would leave FC Barcelona but also football, at least for now and at a time when his personal life is also attracting attention after his separation from Shakira.