MASCHERANO ANNOUNCES INTERNATIONAL RETIREMENT

Javier Mascherano has brought the curtain down on a record-breaking career with Argentina, with the 34-year-old having announced his international retirement.

A long-serving member of the Albiceleste set-up has opted to walk away after suffering a last-16 exit from World Cup 2018.

With France having prevailed in a thrilling seven-goal contest on Russian soil, Argentina are once again having to look to the future.

Mascherano will form no part of those plans, with the country’s all-time leading appearance maker set to become a supporter of the national team after 147 caps.

He told TyC Sport after a disappointing outing against France: “It's time to say goodbye. From now on, I'm a fan.

“It's all over for me. I hope these guys can accomplish something in the future.

"I hope that they can accomplish what we couldn’t today. We have to keep supporting them so they keep trying. Sooner or later, it will happen for them.”

Mascherano, like team-mate Lionel Messi, has tasted final heartache on several occasions with Argentina and walks away without a senior honour to show for his efforts.

He did collect gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, but suffered painful defeats at the 2014 World Cup and four Copas America.

Mascherano had been hoping to bow out on a high at Russia 2018, but has been forced to concede that France were too strong for Jorge Sampaoli’s side in a World Cup classic.

He added in the wake of a 4-3 defeat at the Kazan Arena: “Football is like that.

“We had the game relatively under control, they scored a great goal and it's hard to get up from that. France are a very good team.”

Argentina had responded positively to Antoine Griezmann’s opener from the penalty spot to lead through Angel Di Maria and Gabriel Mercado.

A topsy-turvy encounter swung back in France’s favour, though, as Benjamin Pavard restored parity in stunning style and Kylian Mbappe swept home a quick-fire brace.

Sergio Aguero did pull another back for Argentina in stoppage-time, but their race was run and Mascherano leaves the fold as their most-capped player and the most carded player in World Cup history.

Copyright: www.goal.com
 

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