Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech has announced his retirement from Morocco’s national team.
The decision comes after the 28-year-old was left out of Morocco’s squad for their Africa Cup of Nations campaign last month.
Last year, Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodzic accused Ziyech of faking an injury to get out of playing in a friendly and criticised the midfielder’s behaviour.
Ziyech, who has 40 caps for Morocco, has not featured for the national side since June and has now made himself unavailable for the foreseeable future.
‘Obviously I understand them but I will not return to the national team,’ Ziyech told Abu Dhabi Sports on Tuesday ahead of Chelsea’s Club World Cup campaign.
Asked if it’s his final decision, Ziyech replied: ‘Yes, it’s my final decision.
‘It’s all clear for me how things are going over there.
‘It’s all clear for me and I’m focusing on what I’m doing and right now that’s my club.’
Asked if he felt bad after the decision, Ziyech said: ‘Of course, who doesn’t?
‘But at the end of the day it’s the decision he makes and you have to respect it but if all the lying comes with it, it’s for me clear. Like I said before, I will not return to the national team.
‘I understand [it’s bad news for Moroccan people], I feel sorry for them, that’s the situation right now.’
Speaking in June last year, Halihodzic called Ziyech’s behaviour around the squad ‘unacceptable’.
‘His behaviour in the last two matches, especially the last one, was not that of a national team player who, as a leader in the team, must be a positive role model,’ Halihodzic said.
‘He arrived late and after that, he even refused to work. There was no point in discussing it afterwards, as a coach the answer is right there to see.
‘For me, the national team is above everything, nobody can hold it hostage.
‘A player who refuses to play a game, admittedly a friendly, on the pretext that he is injured. The medical staff made several examinations and said he could play.
‘He then refused to warm up in the second half because he was disappointed to be a substitute.
‘For me, that type of behaviour is unacceptable. You can’t cheat with the national team. You are 100 per cent there or you are not. I won’t tolerate it.’
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