Mandzukic retires from Croatia duty after World Cup

Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic has announced his retirement from international football after his country reached the World Cup final for the first time.

Zlatko Dalic's side saw off Denmark, England and hosts Russia in the knockout stages of the tournament, though they were beaten 4-2 by France in the final in Moscow.

Mandzukic was on the scoresheet at both ends in the game, capitalising on an error from France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to find the right net having inadvertently opened the scoring with an own goal.

But the Juventus attacker, 32, confirmed he is stepping down from international duty in a lengthy social media post released on Tuesday.

"World Cup silver has given me new energy, but it has also made this incredibly difficult decision a bit easier," he wrote.

"We have made our dreams come true, achieved a historic success, and experienced an unbelievable fan support. That month, including the welcome in Zagreb, Slavonski Brod, and the entire Croatia, will remain the most important memory of my career. This has been the most beautiful national team journey, and my favourite return to my homeland.

"I am more than happy, fulfilled, and extremely proud of this silver, that has been forged through years, through pain, effort, work, disappointment, and difficult moments.

"There is no ideal moment to retire. If possible, we would all play for Croatia until we die, since there is no prouder feeling, but I feel this moment has come for me - now.

"I've given my best for Croatia, I have contributed to the biggest success of Croatian football."

The former Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid player also declared his appreciation for Croatia's supporters, adding: "No one is perfect. I have missed opportunities, lost the ball, and made mistakes at passing.

"However, I have always given my best, playing my heart out. Thank you for recognising this, and standing by me and by Croatia.

"As of today, my place is alongside you - among the most loyal Croatia fans."

 

Dragi navijaci, uvijek sam vise volio govoriti na terenu nego izvan njega. Stoga mi i ove rijeci dolaze malo teze nego sto mi je bilo uklizati protivniku ili istrcati sprint u 120. minuti. Teze, jer znam koliko radosti mi donose sva okupljanja, utakmice i pobjede. Teze, jer znam da je slusanje Lijepe nase prije utakmice najveca emocija. Teze, jer znam kakva je cast obuci hrvatski dres i predstavljati svoju zemlju. Teze, jer znam da je ovo konacno i da nakon ovih rijeci vise nema povratka. Pa ipak, znam da je vrijeme bas za te rijeci... Oprastam se od hrvatske reprezentacije. Koliko god me srebro napunilo novom energijom, ujedno mi je olaksalo ovu nemoguce tesku odluku. Dozivjeli smo svoj san, napravili povijesni uspjeh i pritom osjetili nevjerojatnu ljubav navijaca. Tih mjesec dana, kao i doceci u Zagrebu, Slavonskom Brodu i cijeloj Hrvatskoj, ostat ce najvaznija uspomena moje karijere. Bilo je to najljepse putovanje s reprezentacijom i najdrazi povratak kuci. Presretan sam, ispunjen i do neba ponosan na to srebro koje smo kovali godinama, kroz puno muke, truda, rada, razocaranja i teskih trenutaka. Nema idealnog trenutka za odlazak. Da mozemo, vjerujem da bismo svi nastupali za Hrvatsku dok smo zivi jer veceg ponosa nema. No, osjecam da je za mene taj trenutak sada. Da sam dao najbolje od sebe, da sam dao doprinos najvecem uspjehu hrvatskog nogometa. Prije 14 godina, prvi puta sam kao juniorski reprezentativac obukao sveti dres. Od tada sam upoznao, igrao i radio s puno odlicnih suigraca, izbornika, trenera i ljudi oko reprezentacije. Svi smo imali isti cilj - dati sve za uspjeh Hrvatske. Zahvaljujem svima, jer je svatko na neki nacin ostavio trag u mojoj karijeri. Na tom putu sa mnom su uvijek bili moji najblizi, kojima zahvaljujem na velikoj podrsci. I na kraju, hvala navijacima. Nitko od nas nije savrsen. Promasivao sam prilike, gubio lopte ili krivo dodavao. No, uvijek sam dao sve od sebe i ostavio srce na terenu. Hvala vam sto ste to prepoznali i bili uz mene i reprezentaciju. Od danas, moje je mjesto s vama - me?u najvjernijim navijacima Hrvatske. Voli vas Mandzo  #mm17

A post shared by Mario Mandzukic MM 17 (@mariomandzukic_official) on

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