Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic retires from national team

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Mario Mandzukic is retiring from international soccer after 11 years with Croatia’s national team, with his decision coming a month after he scored in the World Cup final.

The 32-year-old Mandzukic made the announcement Tuesday on Instagram.

In an emotional farewell message, Mandzukic said the decision was made easier after Croatia reached the World Cup final in Russia.

“We lived our dream, made a historic result and felt the love of our fans,” Mandzukic said.

“There’s no ideal time for departure,” Mandzuklic added. “If we could, I believe we all would play for Croatia as long as we live because there is no bigger pride than that. However, I feel that for me that moment is now. That I gave my best and that I contributed to the biggest success in Croatian football.”

Mandzukic, who plays for Italian club Juventus, has played 89 games for Croatia, scoring 33 goals — trailing only Davor Suker’s national record of 45. He played at two World Cups and three European Championships.

Croatia lost to France 4-2 in the World Cup final on July 15, with Mandzukic scoring the second goal for his country.

In that match, Mandzukic also made history by becoming the first player to score an own-goal in a World Cup final after inadvertently deflecting a free kick from Antoine Griezmann into his own net in the 18th minute to give France a 1-0 lead.

Mandzukic also scored the decisive goal against England in the semifinals, finding the net in extra time to secure Croatia’s first ever appearance in a World Cup final.