Javier Mascherano has announced his retirement from football at the age of 36.
The former Barcelona and Liverpool midfielder, who had been playing for Estudiantes, told reporters on Sunday: “I want to announce that today I am retiring from soccer professionally.
“I want to thank this club that gave me the opportunity to finish my career in Argentina.”
Mascherano made 147 appearances for Argentina between 2003-2018, making him the country’s most-capped player ahead of Javier Zanetti (143 appearances) and Lionel Messi (141).
He began his career with River Plate before moving to Corinthians in 2005. The combative midfielder then completed a shock move to West Ham in 2006, alongside his compatriot Carlos Tevez, before joining Liverpool in 2007.
Mascherano became a firm favourite at Anfield but couldn’t turn down the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sign for Barça three years later.
And it was at Camp Nou where Mascherano spent the next eight years.
The South American won a host of major honours, including five La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues, while plying his trade in Spain. But in 334 appearances, he managed to score just one goal.
And that one goal came from the penalty spot against Osasuna in April 2017.
On his 319th appearance for the Catalan club, Mascherano was handed the opportunity to finally break his duck after Barcelona were awarded a penalty and Messi had just been substituted.
Those on the Barça bench – including, most notably, Luis Suarez – couldn’t hide their amusement at the sight of Mascherano stepping up to take the penalty.
The Argentine took his new responsibility extremely seriously and leathered the ball into the roof of the net to put his team 6-1 up.
That Mascherano produced such an emphatic strike from the spot further amused Suarez – and you can watch the Uruguayan’s brilliant reaction here…
Superb. That’s a moment Barcelona fans will always remember fondly.
Mascherano will always occupy a special place in the hearts of Culés, who will wish him all the best for the future.
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