Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic has announced his retirement from international football after his country reached the World Cup final for the first time.
Zlatko Dalic’s side saw off Denmark, England and hosts Russia in the knockout stages of the tournament, though they were beaten 4-2 by France in the final in Moscow.
Mandzukic was on the scoresheet at both ends in the game, capitalising on an error from France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to find the right net having inadvertently opened the scoring with an own goal.
But the Juventus attacker, 32, confirmed he is stepping down from international duty in a lengthy social media post released on Tuesday.
“World Cup silver has given me new energy, but it has also made this incredibly difficult decision a bit easier,” he wrote.
“We have made our dreams come true, achieved a historic success, and experienced an unbelievable fan support. That month, including the welcome in Zagreb, Slavonski Brod, and the entire Croatia, will remain the most important memory of my career. This has been the most beautiful national team journey, and my favourite return to my homeland.
“I am more than happy, fulfilled, and extremely proud of this silver, that has been forged through years, through pain, effort, work, disappointment, and difficult moments.
“There is no ideal moment to retire. If possible, we would all play for Croatia until we die, since there is no prouder feeling, but I feel this moment has come for me – now.
“I’ve given my best for Croatia, I have contributed to the biggest success of Croatian football.”
The former Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid player also declared his appreciation for Croatia’s supporters, adding: “No one is perfect. I have missed opportunities, lost the ball, and made mistakes at passing.
“However, I have always given my best, playing my heart out. Thank you for recognising this, and standing by me and by Croatia.
“As of today, my place is alongside you – among the most loyal Croatia fans.”