Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuain revealed that his mother convinced him not to quit football after she was taken ill in 2016.
The Juventus loanee, who completed his move to Stamford Bridge earlier this week, opened up about the experience of hearing that his mother, Nancy, had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness while he was on international duty with Argentina at the Copa America.
Higuain did not learn of his mother’s condition until after Argentina had lost on penalties to Chile in the final and he told the Mirror that the news left him ready to end his playing career.
“I decided immediately that I must stop playing football so that I could look after my mum,” said the 31-year-old, who could make his debut against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Sunday.
“I suspected something was wrong at home during the Copa America, but it was still a huge shock when I was told the truth.
“I felt guilty, because I played in that final without knowing. My whole world came crashing down in that moment. I was not interested in anything else but my mum. I told her I was finished with football and if it had been down to me I would have stopped playing.
“Her reply was that when I played football it made her happy. She told me that she would not allow me to give up something I loved. She asked me to carry on for her and I knew I had to grant that wish.”
While Nancy made a full recovery, Higuain scored 24 goals in 38 Serie A appearances for Juventus the following season and won the Scudetto in his first term with the Bianconeri.
A second league title followed in 2017-18 but Higuain’s form dipped and he was loaned out to AC Milan in August 2018, scoring six goals in 15 league appearances for Gennaro Gattuso’s side.
Now reunited with his former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, Higuain made it clear that football will never take precedence over his family.
“My family and friends are everything to me,” he said.
“After that, comes football. People need to understand that.
“They see you kick a ball and they don’t think you have anything to think about outside the game.”
— Gonzalo Higuaín (@G_Higuain) January 24, 2019
Higuain’s arrival at Chelsea prompted speculation over the future of France international Olivier Giroud at Stamford Bridge.
The 32-year-old has endured a disappointing campaign, scoring just once in the Premier League, but he said that competition for places would not be a hindrance to him.
Giroud said: “Gonzalo’s arrival will help me to step up again and keep me fighting to be competitive by working hard in training.
“And it’s going to be a benefit for the team. I hope he will help us to win trophies.”
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