Argentine playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme announced his international retirement yesterday at the age of 28, citing his mother's poor health as the main reason. Riquelme, who had an up-and-down World
Cup in center midfield for the Albiceleste, said criticism of his performances for Argentina may have worsened her condition; she has been taken to the hospital twice since the World Cup. Said
Riquelme: "It was an easy decision to make. My family comes before the soccer." The elegant midfielder has been the subject of constant debate in Argentina. His style of play requires that he control
the pace of games, often slowing them down to a standstill. When he's not on song, Riquelme can be an anonymous player on the field; at his best he can slice open the stingiest of defenses with a
single pass. Riquelme is quitting the team at an age when most hit their peak. The Villarreal player has won 37 caps in an international career spanning nine years. Players often retire from
international soccer only to relent later on. Among recent examples, Frenchmen Zinedine Zidane Claude Makelele, Lilian Thuram, Portuguese Luis Figo and Swede Henrik Larsson have all retired from
international competition only to return at the urging of teammates, coaches and in some instances, government officials, to play for their country.
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