Iranian Messi announces international retirement at 23 after World Cup abuse affected mother's health | inside World Soccer

Iranian Messi announces international retirement at 23 after World Cup abuse affected mother's health

Friday, June 29, 2018

Sardar Azmoun is walking away from international football after mum gets ill following abuse he suffered
Photo: @sardar_azmoun

Iran striker Sardar Azmoun has retired from international football at the age of 23 after claiming the insults directed at him made his mother ill.

Nicknamed the "Iranian Messi", Azmoun had been built up as Iran's top goal-scoring threat before the World Cup and has scored 23 goals in 36 international appearances.

However, the Rubin Kazan striker did not find the net in Russia as Iran narrowly avoided qualification from Group B, finishing third behind Spain and Portugal.

Iran's failure to progress to the knockout rounds has prompted a torrent of online abuse, and the 23-year-old has now opted to retire from international football, citing the abuse he has received and the effect it has had on his family.

In a lengthy Instagram post, Azmoun wrote:

It was a great honour for me to play in my national team, and I am proud of myself till the end of my life.

Unfortunately, with all the interest I have, and contrary to the will of my heart, I decided to say goodbye to the national team of my country.

There are some things in life that will speak first to you. My mother had overcome a serious illness and I was happy, but unfortunately because of the unkindness of some people - and the insults that me and my team-mates in no way deserved - her illness has become severe.

This has put me in a difficult position where I must pick one or the other, and as a result I pick my mother.

He will be a huge loss for Iran as he currently sits fifth in the all-time scoring charts.

Azmoun, who made his debut for Iran at the age of 19, is seen as the long-term successor to Iran great Ali Daei.

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