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Iran striker Azmoun announces international retirement

By Paul Giblin MOSCOW (Xinhua) -- Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun has announced his retirement from international football at the age of just 23 citing his mother’s health as the main reason.

Azmoun was Iran’s top scorer in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, with 11 goals in 14 matches, but the player who has been dubbed the ‘Iranian Messi’ failed to score as Iran were knocked out of the group stage with a win, a defeat and a draw in their three Group B games, scoring just two goals (an own goal and a penalty) in the process.

His lack of goals saw him become the targets from disgruntled fans, which Azmoun says upset his mother so much they damaged her health.

“Playing in my national team has been a great honour for me and I will be proud of myself to the end of my days,” he said on social media, adding that “unfortunately... I have come to the decision to say goodbye to my national team.”

“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,” commented the player.

“This is one of the most painful and significant life decisions for a youth of 23, who faced great hardships to get here,” added Azmoun.

The striker plays his club football for Russia side Rubin Kazan, although it is thought he has offers to play next season either in England or Spain.

           

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