Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz has retired from international football amidst a poor World Cup qualifying campaign by the national team.
The player earlier said his last game for the country would be the game against Bolivia in La Paz and he acted on his words by resigning at the age of 35.
Santa Cruz starred in his debut at 17 years far back in 1999. The player appreciates the country for still deeming it fit to invite him to international clashes but decided he has had enough of the round leather game.
The player said ahead of the Bolivia game:
“With this call-up, I am bringing to an end my time in the national team. It’s a decision that’s hard to take, but it had to be taken at some point.
“I think it’s time to just dedicate myself to my club. I’m happy to retire at a time when I still feel good enough to play.”
The player, who has over a hundred caps to his name in a Paraguay shirt, is credited with 32 goals since his April 28, 1999 debut. The player started his professional career at Olimpia – a club based in the country’s capital. Santa Cruz has also played for German champions Bayern Munich, English clubs like Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, and Spanish sides Real Betis and Malaga. His long football career also includes time in Mexican club Cruz Azul before he joined the tradition of returning to boyhood clubs. He agreed to the Olimpia move this season.
He leaves at a crucial time for the national team who are outside the top four teams that are set to get automatic qualification for the World Cup in 2018. A fifth side will play the continental play-off for a chance but Paraguay is one team that would likely sit outside the top five in the dramatic qualifiers so far.
Uruguay star striker Luis Suarez is set to break a goalscoring record when the team takes on Ecuador on Friday, Novermber 11, 2016 in a CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying game.
When Uruguay forced Columbia to a 2-2 draw last month, the Barcelona talisman scored his 19th goal in a World Cup qualification game. The goal made him the record goal-scorer with Hernan Crespo in South American history.
Eight games were left when he equalled the record in the CONMEBOL WC qualifiers. With Uruguay hosting Ecuador, Suarez is poised to get another goal to break the record. The former Inter Milan and Chelsea man did his 19 goals in 33 World Cup qualifying games for Argentina. Suarez equalled the record in 36 games, but is set to rewrite the record if he gets a goal against Ecuador.
Chilean Marcelo Salas is third in the list with 18 goals in 32 games between 1998 and 2010. Another Chilean Ivan Zamorano did 17 goals in 23 games from 1990 and 2002. Joaquin Botero and Agustin Delgado from Bolivia and Ecuador respectively follow with 16 goals in 30 matches.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi also has 16 goals but reached his after 38 games.
Peru star player Jefferson Farfan is next with 15 goals after featuring in 36 matches. Uruguay legend Diego Forlan has 15 in 46 games from 2006 to 2014 world Cup qualifying campaign.
Paraguay international Jose Cardozo did 14 goals in 36 games, while his compatriot former Man City and Malaga striker, Roque Santa Cruz scored 13 goals in 38 games.
Quite surprisngly, no Brazilian player apear in the top 15 CONMEBOL World Cup qualifing game. Romario and Zico are the ones who top Brazilians with 11 goals. However, they place 16th on the overall list. a
Paraguay opened their World Cup 2018 qualification campaign with a solid win over Chile in stunning fashion.
The back-to-back Coppa America champions were seen as overwhelming favourites for the win, but Paraguay managed a narrow 2-1 win to create a shock in the first match day of the South American qualification campaign. Óscar Romero and Da Silva were the scorers in the game, but failure to keep a clean sheet was probably the only blemish. Paraguay have no time to rest on their laurels as they are up against another top opponent in the space of a few days.
Uruguay, who are one of the top three teams in South America, will be the hosts in the next qualification game. Since this is away from home, Paraguay could be forgiven to have lofty ambitions, but that is not the case with Roque Santa Cruz. The striker, who may not start against Uruguay, says that Paraguay need all the help in the form of possession, variation, and ability to surprise the opponent when it matters the most. Team morale will be a factor in deciding the probability of success and Santa Cruz says that this quality was in abundance following this recent win.
"Both Paraguay and Uruguay have a very important air power, the slogan will be very vigilant in the ball stop. It will be a game of great concentration and much friction.The group is super happy and optimistic, was greatly strengthened the work we have been doing thanks to the victory we get to Chile.We're fine, we should try to make a great game, challenge it and try to get the three points home," said Santa Cruz.Jorge Moreira also expressed the idea of being able to repeat the win achieved against Chile in the opening World Cup qualification campaign.
Roque Santa Cruz is a 34 year old Paraguayan footballer who is currently performing for Olimpia Asuncion but his playing career is very comprehensive as he has worn the jersey of many clubs from around the world including: Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Malaga, Betis, Cruz Azul and his current club Olimpia Asuncion.
The experienced attacker knows what it takes to perform in different leagues and clubs, Santa Cruz has recently voiced his thoughts concerning Pep Guardiola as the Spanish manager has the task of pushing Manchester City to the Premier League title as well as various other pieces of silverware.
Pep Guardiola is expected to do a good job in Manchester City; he has already won every top club competition back when in charge of Barcelona. The Premier League is a very different breed of league compared to those where he has participated in before as the English League is not a competition where only 2 or 3 clubs have a realistic chance to actually win, this League has much more competitors and obstacles before any club can emerge as champions but Santa Cruz is confident that Guardiola will make it happen.
The 34 year old Paraguayan attacker of Olimpia Asuncion, Roque Santa Cruz said: "I think City like to play good football. They have some great players. I think they will value Guardiola's playing philosophy a lot. They'll keep evolving even more and they'll be even more competitive with him. I think we may see Manchester City playing much better football."
"As a group they are a very solid team, that's their strength."
Santa Cruz spent around 4 years performing as a player of Manchester City and he knows a thing or two about that league and that team, he is certain that Pep Guardiola will transform Manchester City into a new squad, a squad that might be capable of winning the biggest competitions in the world of football.
Santa Cruz of Paraguay would be returning to the Olimpia club where he started off the first time. His career can be termed as a much traveled one.
Being a striker, Roque Santa Cruz would be closing his career by getting him to Paraguay and being part of Olimpia. The team is based out of Asuncion. The player who is about 34 years of age is known to be top scorer for Paraguay. He has been in 111 international games and achieved about 32 games. He joined Olimpia after having played in Malaga. He had been given on loan from Cruz Azul which is a club of the first division in Mexico.
On social media the club owners welcomed him back with encouraging notes. Indeed, he has also won Copa Libertadores three times. He had left the first club in 1999 when he had been chosen for Bayern Munich. He stayed with the club till 2007. He then moved to clubs like Blackburn Rovers, Real Betis, Manchester City and others like the last clubs mentioned above.
The Paraguay captain of former times had played and represented the country in three World Cups between the periods 2002 to 2010. The recent Copa America did not see him participate as part of the country’s squad as he had suffered a knee ligament injury. Indeed, his decision to return to the club he originated from being common with other players as well. Indeed, it is a great feat when players of international fame decide to bring back their knowledge and experience to the club where they develop their playing skills initially. It definitely helps in the progress of the club and to help them get justified returns from the time and effort that is invested in building players for tomorrow.
Roque Santa Cruz believes that Lionel Messi should win a title with Argentina if he wants to fulfill expectations of fans.
Former Paraguay international Roque Santa Cruz has stated that Barcelona forward Lionel Messi should win a title with Argentina if he intends to meet the fans’ expectations. He believes that the player who is recognized as a world-class player with Barcelona need to win at least a trophy with his national team if he wants to be accepted at home.
Many Argentina fans believe that Lionel Messi has yet to replicate his form with the national team, but Roque Santa Cruz does not agree with this statement. He said that Messi has always played well with Argentina, but it is the fans pressure that makes it appear this way. For him, the only solution for Lionel Messi is to win a trophy with Argentina so as to fulfill their wishes.
Messi has played in 2 finals so far with Argentina but has yet to win any of them. He was present in the 2014 World Cup final and the 2015 Copa America and both time Argentina lost the match. He will be hoping for another outcome at the Copa America Centenario where Argentina is again among one of the favorites to lift the trophy.
Roque Santa Cruz, who has not been selected by Paraguay for this tournament, said that his team has a very strong team. He believes that there is a strong team spirit and that each player is determined to win the trophy. For him, this is the best Paraguay team for quite some time, and it is natural to have some big expectations.
For him, Argentina is one of the favorite to win the Copa America, but he also believes that Brazil is not far behind despite having some troubles recently.
Paraguay International, Roque Santa Cruz is set to lead his country to possibly his last Copa America tournament before he retires after playing 20 years as a professional footballer.
The 34-year-old striker has not only made himself a glittering career on the pitch, but managed to do some good off it as well. The player is Paraguay's all-time leading scorer, which is as much a result of longevity as it is quality.
Santa Cruz started as a professional for Olimpia in his home country before most American kids even learn to drive, at the absurdly young age of 15. Two years later he moved to the club where he truly made his name - Bayern Munich. In eight years with the Bavarian giants, Santa Cruz won a number of trophies, but never found any real consistency and never scored more than 10 goals in a season.
After leaving Bayern, he landed in England, bouncing from Manchester City to Blackburn - he scored 20 goals in a season there, the best year of his career - before taking off to Spain with Betis and Malaga. In 2015 he signed with Cruz Azul for a short spell before then returning to Spain, where he currently plays with Malaga on loan.
The player is also unsurprisingly a hero in Paraguay. The people love him for his work off the pitch, but it also helps that he's been brilliant on it. And now he gets another big stage to shine on in Copa America Centenario.
Drawn into Group A with the United States, Colombia and Costa Rica, Paraguay face a tough test even though they have beaten Brazil in penalties at last year's Copa America, expectations are high. With Santa Cruz as vice captain of the team and other experienced player, Paraguay can only wish for the best in the tournament.
Malaga manager Javi Gracia has ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract with the club. He has now extended his stay until 2019.
The former coach of Almeria and Osasuna has been impressive in his first two campaigns at the Spanish club. One of the major highlights of his time at Malaga would be the 1-0 win over Barcelona last season. Further, he has also been able to draw both matches against Real Madrid this season. Despite the successes, the club has not been able to make huge inroads as far as league position is concerned.
This turned out to be a source of concern for the manager amidst rumours that Malaga were considering a managerial change in order to start moving up the table. Inconsistent results mean that the club are mid-table in the Spanish league. They have secured just nine victories throughout the campaign while scoring less than a goal per game on an average.
The lack of free scoring comes as a surprise considering that Javi Gracia has a wealth of attackers at his disposal including the experienced Roque Santa Cruz. The former Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers striker returned to the club after a spell in South American football, and a summer on a yacht with a Scotland yacht charter.
"Personally I have not received any offer. My agents could maybe tell you better. I am renewing my contract due to the interest from the club, from [sporting director Francesc] Arnau, and because I do not want to be speculating about my future any more.We are going to play now against a series of teams my name has been linked with, and this is a way to show my gratitude to the club. I wanted to end all this speculation," said the Malaga manager. The club brought an end to a five match winless run with a narrow win over Sporting Gijón.
Roque Santa Cruz is hoping that his recent underwhelming spell with Cruz Azul will be forgotten as the Paraguayan attacker signed a 2 year long contract with Cruz Azul for a fee of €2 million per year and Santa Cruz also became the highest paid player in the entire Mexican League after agreeing a salary where he was going to earn around USD$200.000 each month.
Unfortunately for Cruz Azul, the player that they spent so much cash in didn’t manage to live up to his salary as the Paraguayan sustained an injury which kept him out of the playing grounds for a long period of time and his contract with the Mexican club ended sooner than initially expected.
Despite having signed a 2 year long contract with Cruz Azul, the time that Santa Cruz spent in the club didn’t even reach 1 year as he would later go on making a return to Malaga.
After Santa Cruz officially completed his return to Santa Cruz, the 34 year old Paraguayan attacker went on saying that retiring with them was always on his plan; it was what he wanted to do and had planned on doing for a long time.
Santa Cruz revealed his happiness in returning to Santa Cruz as he said:"It's always important my family feels comfortable. My children have their friends and so does my wife. Malaga as a place has charm, and it's good for the children to live. Then there's the sporting factor. I spoke to my friends here and I longed to share their experiences. I watched two matches on television. I saw how the stadium was against Sevilla and to come back here is a dream. I feel very honored to be here and to receive this affection. I'm grateful for this opportunity. This is my home."
The Paraguayan player is considered to be as one of the worst signings that the Mexican club Cruz Azul has ever done in their history. The amount of money they spent in signing Santa Cruz was just too much for the small amount of matches that he actually get to play before eventually getting injured and offloaded back to Malaga.
Former Blackburn and Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz recently joined Malaga to end his spell with South American football once again.
When the striker had joined Cruz Azul, it was thought that this would be the end of his time in European football. Despite being a Paraguayan, Santa Cruz has largely spent much of his professional career in Europe playing for the likes of Bayern Munich, Blackburn, and Manchester City. In the last five years, though, he has been on loan at various clubs. Poor form coupled with homesickness saw him return to South American football with Mexican club Cruz Azul.
The striker scored four goals in only 10 appearances for Cruz Azul before deciding to return to Malaga. He has come to the Spanish club on a loan deal, but it was feared that the striker may never make a competitive appearance due to a succession of injury problems. For the first time, Santa Cruz seems happy that the injury problems have started to clear and he will be able to make his debut, for the third time, in front of the Malaga supporters. Santa Cruz has already been to the club in two loan spells. The striker has revealed that he could make his debut in the upcoming match against Espanyol.
Malaga have been in poor form throughout this season and they could certainly use with some goals from the Paraguayan centre forward. Malaga have the worst record in the league when it comes to scoring goals. They have managed only seven in 13 games this season. Most of the goals have been from Charles whereas the likes of Ricardo Horta and Cop continue to disappoint, as they still for the opening goal of their season.“Now I am happy to serve the training and equipment from the environment to live from day to day,” said Santa Cruz.