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Sport

Croatia's Rakitic ends international career

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group E - Croatia v Azerbaijan - Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia - March 21, 2019 Croatia's Ivan Rakitic in action with Azerbaijan's Gara Garayev REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic has called time on his international career with the 2018 World Cup runners-up, he said on Monday.

The former Barcelona player, 32, was an integral part of the Croatia side who reached the World Cup final in Russia before losing 4-2 to France.

Rakitic, who made 106 appearances and scored 15 goals for his country, discussed the decision with national captain Luka Modric, coach Zlatko Dalic and Croatian Football Association president Davor Suker.

“Saying goodbye to the Croatian national team is the most difficult decision in my career, but I felt that this was the moment when I had to break away and make that decision,” said Rakitic in a social media post from the national side.

“I enjoyed every game I played for my homeland, and unforgettable moments from the World Cup will remain among my favourites.

“I am convinced that we still have a great team with a bright future ahead. I wish my friends and teammates all the luck in the world for the upcoming challenges, and in me they will have the biggest fan.”

Rakitic joined his former club Sevilla this summer after spending six years with Barcelona.

Reporting by Rik Sharma, editing by Ed Osmond

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