Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has revealed that he came close to “walking away” from football two years ago.
The Catalans endured a difficult campaign in 2013-14, finishing second in LaLiga to Atletico Madrid, who also knocked them out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
A 2-1 defeat in the Copa del Rey final to Real Madrid had preceded their league disappointment, and head coach Gerardo Martino soon departed after less than a year in charge.
Pique’s World Cup campaign in Brazil fared little better, as Spain were dumped out during the group stage following a 5-1 thrashing by Netherlands and a 2-0 loss to Chile.
And the 29-year-old has admitted that he nearly called time on his playing career as he felt that his passion for the sport had ebbed away.
“Motivation is everything,” he said, speaking ahead of Barca’s Champions League clash with Manchester City on Wednesday.
“I was close to quitting Spain, quitting Barca, and just walking away. You have enough money to live the rest of your life. After the 2014 World Cup, I didn’t have any passion.
“I spoke with several coaches and decided to keep going. Maybe it was because I won everything at a young age.
“Then they spoke about Luis Enrique coming, bringing in some fresh air, trying to get back as one of the best teams in the world. I wanted to be a part of it, and now I’m at the peak of my career, having fun.”
Pique caused a storm when he announced he would retire from international football following the World Cup in Russia in 2018, claiming he had lost patience with fans and media outlets who questioned his commitment to the national team.
Spain head coach Julen Lopetegui suggested that Pique could decide to change his mind, but the former Manchester United centre-back insists that will not be the case.
“Yes, it is a final decision,” he said. “I didn’t want to announce my decision then, but I wasn’t too happy with the stories which were later proven to be false, so I felt the need to announce it then.
“I’ve read Twitter, stories in Marca and AS saying things, but this is a decision I have taken because I think I deserve to leave how and when I want to.
“If the coach calls me up [in 2018], I will have played for Spain for 10 years and I think that’s the best option for me, to take a step to the side, to allow future generations to take the space I’ve taken over this time.”
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