Spain defender Gerard Pique has revealed that he will retire from international football following the 2018 World Cup after growing "tired" of criticism.
The centre-back has long been a contentious figure in the Spain ranks due to his public backing of Catalan independence, as well as his part in perceived past squabbling between Barcelona and Real Madrid players.
Pique also came under fire from the press during Sunday's 2-0 win over Albania, with some claiming he had cut the regulation short-sleeved jersey in order to remove the trim on the shirts that bears the design of the Spanish flag.
However, the 29-year-old produced proof after the match that he had in fact cut the sleeves of a shirt that did not have the same flag design, and he says the accusations have pushed him too far.
"I've tried everything but I cannot take any more," he said in a statement released by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
"Today with the sleeves is the straw that breaks the camel's back. They've made it so I've lost the excitement of coming here, and although after Russia I'll only be 31, I'll leave."
The RFEF also communicated their support for the centre-back.
"The Royal Spanish Football Federation wants to show their support for the Spanish international Gerard Pique regarding the controversy caused by the cutting of long sleeves of his shirt in the match played against Albania," a statement read.
"Contrary to what was indicated by some malicious comments - that the player cut his sleeves to avoid wearing a top with the national colours - the RFEF wishes to clarify that this trimming only exists in the Adidas short-sleeve shirt, and not in the long sleeves, which is what Pique wore in the match.
"This lack of trimming can be seen on the shirt of his partner, Sergio Ramos, who also worse long sleeves.
"The player cut his sleeves with the sole purpose of playing more comfortably, like other internationals have done on many occasions.
"Unfair criticism of Gerard Pique has caused him to declare that he will leave the Spanish team after the World Cup in Russia."
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