Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic announces “I’m saying goodbye to the Croatian national team” after reaching the World Cup final this summer.
The Bianconeri man scored in both the semi-final and final, but his side were beaten 4-2 by France in Moscow.
“Dear fans, I’ve always preferred to talk on the pitch rather than off it,” Mandzukic said in a statement on the Croatian FA’s website.
“Therefore these words come harder to me than sliding in on an opponent or making a sprint after 120 minutes.
“Harder because I know how much happiness all the gatherings, matches and wins bring. Harder because I know that listening to our national anthem before the game is the most beautiful thing.
“Harder, because I know this is the end and there is no coming back from these words: I’m saying goodbye to the Croatian national team.
“As much as the silver medal fills me with new energy, it has made it easier for me to make this impossible decision.
“We lived our dreams, we had historic success and felt the love from our fans.
“This month, as well as the reception in Zagreb, Slavonski Brod and throughout Croatia, will remain the most important memory of my career. It was the most beautiful journey with the team, and the best return home.
“I’m overjoyed, and couldn’t be more proud of the silver medal we had been dying for for years, through a lot of effort, effort, labour, disappointment, and hard moments.
“There is no ideal time to say goodbye. If we could I think we’d all play for Croatia as long as we live because there is no greater pride.
“However, I feel the time for me is now. I did my best and I made my contribution to the greatest success in Croatian football.
“I first wore that holy shirt 14 years ago as a junior member of the team, and since then I’ve met, played and worked with many excellent teammates, coaches and people around the team.
“We all had one goal: to give everything for the success of Croatia. I thank everyone, because everyone in some way left a mark in my career.
“Along the way my closest friends were always beside me, and I thank them for their fantastic support.
“And, finally, a thank you to the fans. None of us is perfect. I missed chances, gave the ball away, and made miscalculations.
“But I always gave everything and left my heart out there on the pitch. Thank you for recognising that, and being behind me and the team.
“From today I’ll be one of you, one of Croatia’s biggest fans.