Gerard Pique set to retire from International duty in 2018
Despite winning both the World Cup and European Championship for his nation, defender Gerard Pique is still not a popular figure among some sections of Spanish supporters. The Barcelona man received widespread criticism following his support of independence for Catalonia, as well as for his decision to wear a shirt that does not bare the Spanish flag on the sleeve.
As a result of such animosity, the 29-year-old has announced his plans to retire from international duty following the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Pique played 90 minutes for Spain in their recent World Cup qualifying match against Albania, with Julen Lopetegui’s team undoubtedly the favourites in the football betting odds among bookmakers to qualify top of G.
The Spanish FA released a statement in support of Pique following social media criticism of the defender, while Pique himself was quick to defend himself over the issue. The reason given by the FA stated that Pique had cut off the sleeves of his shirt “the same way other players have done on many occasions, for comfort.”
Pique is likely to be selected for Spain’s next encounter with Macedonia, where Sergio Ramos and Co are favourites in the bookmaker odds to claim three points, that would keep them ahead of rivals Italy in their group. William Hill’s full range of UK, European and Worldwide football markets provide the perfect platform to win big on some of the game’s biggest matches.
Since his move back to Barcelona following four years in the English Premier League with Manchester United, Pique has been ever present for the national team, earning over 80 caps since his debut in 2009. Despite only making a handful of appearances for the United first team, Pique still holds fond memories of his time in England, especially of his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, who he still sees as a father figure.
However, despite many believing that Pique is entering the prime of his career, the defender appears to have made his decision on his future, revealing: “Today’s issue of the sleeves is the straw that breaks the camel. They’ve managed to make me lose the excitement of coming here and although after Russia I’ll only be 31, I’ll leave.”
Spain are among the favourites in the football betting markets from online bookmakers, and with Diego Costa having recovered from being left out of Euro 2016 by former boss Vicente Del Bosque, the Chelsea man will be hoping to feature heavily both in qualifying and at the finals in Russia themselves. The 28-year-old is the bookies favourite to be Spain’s leading goal scorer come the end of the qualifying campaign.
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