Gonzalo Higuain was in tears after playing his final game in professional football for Inter Miami.
The former Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus forward, who also enjoyed loan spells at Chelsea and AC Milan towards the latter stages of his career, announced his intention to retire at an emotional press conference this month.
He said: “After seventeen and a half years of the most wonderful professional career I have ever had, I feel that football has given me a lot, having given everything of myself and more.
“Thank you very much to those who always trusted me, the time has come to say goodbye.”
Image credit: Inter Miami/TwitterHiguain, who joined Inter Miami in September 2020, a day after he mutually terminated his contract with Juventus, has enjoyed life in America. He scored 29 goals in 68 appearances for the MLS side.
And on Monday night, the 34-year-old made his final appearance in football as Inter Miami suffered a 3-0 defeat to New York City in round one of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
It was an incredibly emotional moment for the Argentine, who broke down in tears after the full-time whistle.
“I felt like what I had loved the most as a job had ended. It was half my life, my career, 17-and-a-half years,” Higuain said in his post-match press conference.
“Images from my entire career came to my mind. What I lived, what I worked, what I experienced and I’m leaving very happy because I gave it all until today. That’s the most important thing.”
He might not have won his final match in football, but Higuain can certainly look back at his career with pride.
He managed to bag over 300 goals and over 100 assists across more than 700 appearances for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, and scored 31 goals in 75 games for Argentina – the fifth-most of any player in La Albiceleste history.
In Monday’s post-match press conference, he added: “I think what’s most important, regardless of the career you’ve had, the trophies, the goals, the most important thing is being a good person. Leaving good values in every team you played for.
“And that’s the biggest memory I take from every team I played for, the acknowledgement they’ve given me at every team I’ve played for, ex-teammates, more than anything they’ve spoken about the good person that I am.”
Image credit: AlamyIn a fascinating interview with TyC Sports last month, Higuain opened up about footballers ‘not having the same rights’ as normal people in regards to criticism.
“I said that I lived 15 years unnaturally. People think that we have an easy life, and no, not at all. We don’t have the same right that you go down the street, they insult you and you can’t react, because if you do, the impact is double.
“If you lose a game, if you miss a goal or lose an important game, you can’t go out on the street.
“The soccer player lives conditioned by a result. It’s a sport, a job, and it shouldn’t be confused. We’re all human.”
The Argentine added: “I find it very unfair to have lived 15 years in the elite and not have been able to react to moments when I had to bow my head to insults and disrespect. At this time in my life, I can’t tolerate it anymore.
“I no longer tolerate ignoring, disrespect or aggression. I never suffered them in person, only because of anonymous people on social networks. But I’m sure this will end when they have to show their faces.
“Today jokes are made with everything kinds of things, but we have to be aware of what is generated, because with five seconds in front of a computer you can ruin a person’s life.
“I am in one of the best moments of my life. The only thing that matters in football is success and not the journey that one takes.
“I’m already at a point in my life where neither praise makes me feel better nor criticism makes me feel worse. The most important thing is balance, and when one is calm with oneself, the other is secondary.
“I am calm because I gave my life and more for the Argentine National Team. I am proud of what I gave for the National Team and I do not regret anything at all.”