Despite Gerard Pique having endured a long suffering relationship with Spain fans in his career, when the Barcelona defender announced his international retirement just over a week ago it was a sad moment for football.
The 29-year-old has been a vital cog in a Barcelona side that has been a shining example for world football in recent years - winning six La Liga tiles, four Copa del Reys, five Spanish Super Cups and three Champions League crowns during his time at the Camp Nou.
But while international teams may be glad to see the back of the world class defender, when he retires for Spain after the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Pique has astonishingly revealed he could have quit the game altogether two years ago.
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With the phenomenal sums of money available to world's elite players, and the luxury lifestyles, it's a wonder more footballers have not had similar thoughts to Pique, who admits he lost all motivation following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Speaking to AS, Pique said: “Motivation is key, when you don’t have motivation you look for it. If you’re not motivated or comfortable, you leave it.
“We’re lucky because financially we’ll be very good, but if you’re not motivated, why carry on?
"After the World Cup (2014) I spoke to people and said I didn’t want to continue, but I spoke to my coaches, Vicente del Bosque, and they convinced me to change my mind."
Killing Pique's joy
Pique recently accused Spain fans of 'killing his joy' when playing for the country, after they had ridiculed him for wearing a shirt without the Spanish flag trim on the sleeve. And more historically, the 29-year-old has been booed for his support of Catalonian independence.
However, his decision to quit football altogether was built upon the foundations of having achieved all there is to achieve. The defender has won Europe's elite club competition, endless league titles - in both Spain and England - cup competitions and also the World Cup and European Championships - on two occasions - with La Roja.
By the age of 21, Pique had already won the Champions League and Premier League with Manchester United. And that early success, the defender admits, had ultimately played a part in him questioning his future in the sport.
“It was a question of motivation, I didn’t have it, maybe because I’d won so much so young. But with Luis Enrique giving us more, I’m feeling comfortable in the club, also in the national team, and also publicly saying I want to be best in the world again, I realised I had to get back. I’ve grown."
But the Spaniard's comments should be of no concern to either Enrique or the clubs' fans, with Pique admitting he is feeling the best he has ever felt, and will now be keen to push the Catalans up the table, after a steady start to the new campaign.
"I feel I’m at the best time in my career. I feel I can compete in many respects, I’m enjoying my game more than ever and hope to continue at this level.”
Was Gerard Pique right to announce his plans to retire from Spain after the 2018 World Cup in Russia? Have your say in the comment box below.