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Russia's World Cup hero Akinfeev retires from internationals

Russia's World Cup hero Akinfeev retires from internationals

Russia

Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is retiring from international soccer after leading the national side as captain to this year’s World Cup quarter-finals on home soil.

The 32-year-old CSKA Moscow player’s acrobatic penalty saves captivated home crowds and helped Russia to their best tournament finish since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Akinfeev earned 112 caps for his country since his debut in 2004 as an 18-year-old, according to the Russian Football Union.

The highlight of his international career came at this year’s World Cup hosted by Russia.

Akinfeev played a key role in helping his team reach the quarter-finals, where they lost 4-3 to Croatia in a penalty shootout.

He saved two spot-kicks, including one with his left leg, to help Russia eliminate 2010 world champions Spain in the round of 16.

After the match, graffiti of the goalkeeper appeared around the country and his kick save became a symbol of Russia’s unexpected success at the tournament.

Russia had been heavily dependent on Akinfeev, who before the World Cup had had a chequered history in internationals.

Reuters

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