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.

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