An emotional Gonzalo Higuain announces his retirement. Here’s what he had to say

There were hints all season that this day was coming, and when it did, Gonzalo Higuain could not contain his emotions.

The 34-year-old Inter Miami forward announced Monday that he will retire at the end of this season. Two home games remain, and the team is clinging to the final playoff spot in the East. He will hang up his cleats after one of the most remarkable runs of his illustrious 17-year career that included stops at Real Madrid, Juventus and three World Cups with Argentina.

“Now is the moment to share the news about a decision that I’ve been processing, analyzing and preparing to make for a while,” he began, with all his teammates, his wife and daughter packed into the interview room. “The day has arrived to say goodbye to futbol, a profession that has given me so much, and one that I feel privileged to have lived with its good and bad moments.”

He added that while leaving the game “hurts in my soul,” he feels this was the right time and this season has been among the most memorable of his career. He said he informed the club about his decision three months ago and thanked Inter Miami for allowing him to find renewed joy in the game.

“This club gave me back my love of futbol. I can now retire as I always dreamed, scoring goals and playing well,” he said, breaking down in tears. After his announcement, the entire team lined up and gave him hugs.

In the span of two months, Higuain went from being booed by fans and benched by the coaching staff to being the undisputed team MVP.

After scoring just two goals in the first 18 games he has scored 12 in the past 14, including multiple game-winners. He scored the lone goal in the 86th minute of a critical road 1-0 road win over Toronto on Friday night.

His 14 goals on the season are a team high. He is the fittest he has been in years. And the happiest.

“I am enjoying playing so much right now,” he said, adding that the greatest gift he could give his teammates would be an MLS Cup title.

He said something clicked in him at midseason, after he was replaced in the starting lineup by Leo Campana, and he realized only he could change his situation.

His attitude changed drastically, and he committed himself to getting in peak fitness. His resurgence also coincided with the arrival of playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, whom Higuain fully trusts to deliver him perfect passes.

Coach Phil Neville said Higuain’s turnaround is a testament to his character.

“When you’re a big player with the kind of experience and quality he’s got, you have the ability to grab hold of a team by yourself, carry the team on your back, and he did that six or seven weeks ago when there were probably a lot of questions about him and the team, probably more about him than the team,” Neville said.

Neville had a frank talk with Higuain when he had been relegated to the bench, and the Argentine legend emerged with a renewed motivation.

“We spoke about legacy, about how he wanted to be remembered,” Neville recalled. “You have two choices. Do you wave the white flag and give up or show who you are and what you are about. What he’s shown on and off the field — more off the field than on it, in my opinion — is that he’s proven he’s world class, a great person and a winner.

“Over the last five weeks, the whole dressing room looks at him as a leader. He’s probably where he wanted to be when he got to MLS. He wanted to be The Man everyone worshipped. He’s a world-class player and delivering everything and more for a team that worships him, thinks he’s God, thinks he’s the King. He’s got the whole dressing room playing to his tune.”

Inter Miami forward Gonzalo Higuaín (10) reacts with his family during a press conference after announcing his retirement on Monday, October 3, 2022 at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Inter Miami forward Gonzalo Higuaín (10) reacts with his family during a press conference after announcing his retirement on Monday, October 3, 2022 at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Higuain joined the club from Italian giant Juventus amid much fanfare in September 2020, becoming the league’s third-highest paid player at over $6 million per year. He had a reputation as a clinical finisher after scoring more than 225 goals for Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus, plus 31 for the Argentine national team.

He had ups and downs in MLS, and endured insults on social media. He said he will not miss that aspect of professional sports.

“I only ask that people take a moment before they make a comment because they don’t know the irreparable damage they can do to a person,” Higuain said. “I have suffered it first-hand, but thankfully I had a family behind me to lift me up. But some people don’t overcome it. Five seconds behind a computer keyboard can ruin a person.”

Inter Miami’s final two regular-season games are at home — Wednesday against Orlando City (8 p.m.) and Sunday against CF Montreal (2:30 p.m.). Miami can clinch a playoff spot Wednesday with a win over Orlando and a Columbus road loss to Charlotte.