Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has offered to quit the Spanish national team before the 2018 World Cup after enduring his “worst experience” in football.
Pique was part of the Barca team that played Las Palmas behind closed doors at Camp Nou following the ugly scenes of the Catalan referendum, and the independence supporter struggled to hold back the tears during his interview after the match.
“It was my worst experience [as a player],” admitted the 30-year-old, who voted before the game and had planned to retire from international duty after the World Cup.
“The board tried to stop the game being played by all means went into the dressing room to make the decision with us.
“It’s been a very tough day, probably the toughest since I turned professional, but my opinion counts for little. Ultimately, we decided to play amongst ourselves.
“National team? I really think I can still go with the national team because I’m convinced that there are thousands of people who are in total disagreement with what’s happened.
“But I’ll also say that if the Coach or another executive in the Federation thinks I’m a problem or a disturbance in the national team, I have no qualms about stepping aside and leaving the team before 2018.
“Patriotism? Being called up to the national team isn’t a competition of who’s more patriotic.
“There have been many players who have been naturalised from other countries and weren’t Spaniards…
“Being called up to the national team is about going with them, playing the best you possibly can and trying to win. That’s how I understand it.“