Mexico's Rafa Marquez retires from international soccer

Rafael Marquez has announced his retirement from international soccer following Mexico’s elimination from the 2018 World Cup. The legendary defender and team captain made his debut for the senior team in 1997 and went on to make 146 appearances for El Tri, scoring 19 goals.

The 39-year-old Marquez made history last month, both for being one of the oldest outfield players ever to feature in a World Cup and for becoming one of just a handful of players to represent their country in five consecutive editions of the tournament.

Rafael Marquez of Mexico looks on during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at Samara Arena on July 2, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Getty Images)

“For now I think I will enjoy some free time. These have been 22 years of uninterrupted career and my future will surely be working in football,” said Marquez, speaking to FFT.

Generally considered one of the greatest players ever to wear the Mexico jersey, Marquez has also endured controversy in his career. In August of 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department accused him of acting as a “front person” for a Mexican drug trafficking network. The defender, who was playing for Liga MX club Atlas at the time, had bank accounts in the U.S. and Mexico frozen and saw his United States visa revoked.

He has maintained that he is innocent but as a result of the sanctions still pending against him, Marquez was made to train in a uniform that was absent any of the branding or sponsorship logos that featured on the rest of the Mexico team’s training kits.

Marquez made three appearances at the World Cup in Russia, coming on as a sub in Mexico’s first two group stage matches, wins against Germany and South Korea, and starting in the game against Brazil that saw Mexico once again eliminated in the round of 16.

Teammate Oribe Peralta also announced his retirement from El Tri following the loss to Brazil. The 34-year-old Peralta made his debut in 2005 and scored 25 goals in 67 appearances.

“I want to thank Mexico for letting me be a part of it during these years. I will always reminisce with great affection each one of the matches I played. We had sorrows, but mostly joys which will remain forever in my heart,” said Peralta on Twitter.

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