Rakitic ends international career with Croatia

September 22, 2020
In this Sunday, July 15, 2018 file photo, Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic (left) heads the ball as France’s Olivier Giroud looks on during the final match of  the 2018 World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia.
In this Sunday, July 15, 2018 file photo, Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic (left) heads the ball as France’s Olivier Giroud looks on during the final match of the 2018 World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia.

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP):

Ivan Rakitic has decided to end his international career, Croatia's football federation said yesterday.

The 32-year-old Rakitic played 106 times for his country in a storied midfield partnership with Luka Modric that lasted for more than a decade.

They were key to Croatia reaching the 2018 World Cup final, where they lost 4-2 to France.

Rakitic scored the decisive penalty in shoot-outs to beat Denmark and host Russia in the first two knockout rounds.

"Saying goodbye to the Croatian national team is the most difficult decision in my career," Rakitic said in a federation statement.

Born in Switzerland, Rakitic started his career at Basel and represented Swiss national youth teams before opting to switch to his parents' home nation.

He leaves the Croatia squad just nine months before they play at the postponed 2020 European Championship. Croatia are in a group with England, the Czech Republic and a play-off winner not yet decided.

Rakitic is in his first season back at Sevilla, where he won a Europa League title in 2014 before starting a six-year spell at Barcelona. He scored the opening goal in Barcelona's 3-1 win over Juventus in the 2015 Champions League final.

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