Angel Di Maria, renowned as one of the most skilled and adaptable players of his era, has declared his retirement from international football after guiding Argentina to their first Copa America win in 28 years. The 35-year-old winger, who nailed the winning goal in the final against Brazil, expressed his desire to conclude his international career on a high note and concentrate on his club career with Benfica.
Having made his debut for Argentina in 2008, Di Maria appeared in 135 matches and netted 29 goals for his country, cementing his status as the fourth most capped player and the ninth-highest scorer in their history. Additionally, he achieved an Olympic gold medal in 2008 and reached the finals of the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 and 2016 Copa America.
Angel Di Maria was born on February 14, 1988, in Rosario, Argentina, and began his football career at a young age. He joined Rosario Central, his local club, at the age of seven, and made his professional debut at the age of 17. Known for his speed, dribbling, and crossing skills, he earned the nickname "El Fideo" (The Noodle) due to his slender physique.
Di Maria's talent did not go unnoticed, as he impressed the national team coaches and was selected for the under-20 squad that won the 2007 FIFA World Cup in Canada. During the tournament, he scored three goals and was named in the team of the tournament.
A year later, he was part of the Olympic team that secured the gold medal in Beijing, where he notably scored the only goal in the final against Nigeria.
Di Maria's outstanding performances for Rosario Central and the national team garnered the attention of several top European clubs. In 2007, he made a move to Portuguese powerhouse Benfica for €8 million. During his three seasons with the Lisbon club, he played a pivotal role in securing the league title in 2010 and the League Cup in 2009 and 2010.
Additionally, he solidified his position as a regular starter for Argentina, notably featuring in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where he scored a remarkable goal in the 3-1 victory over Greece in the group stage.
His exceptional on-field displays for both club and country led to a transfer to Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2010, where he joined fellow Argentines Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Gago. He became an integral part of the team that clinched the La Liga title in 2012 and the Champions League in 2014, where he was honored as the man of the match in the final against Atletico Madrid after setting up Gareth Bale’s decisive goal.
Furthermore, he represented Argentina in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, scoring the winning goal in the last 16 against Switzerland, although he missed the final against Germany due to injury.
Following his successful stint with Real Madrid, Di Maria made a surprising move to Manchester United in 2014 for a British record fee of £59.7 million. Despite a strong start in England, where he scored three goals and provided four assists in his first five games, he struggled to adapt to the Premier League's style and pace, leading to a decline in form and confidence.
Likewise, a burglary at his home significantly impacted his family's security and well-being. After a disappointing season, he departed from United and joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2015 for €63 million.
In France, Di Maria rediscovered his top form, contributing to PSG's success with four consecutive league titles, four French Cups, and five French League Cups. He also played a pivotal role in PSG's journey to the final of the Champions League in 2020, where he assisted Marquinhos’ goal in the 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.
On the international stage, he represented Argentina in the finals of the 2015 and 2016 Copa America, experiencing defeats to Chile on penalties on both occasions. Additionally, he participated in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, notably scoring a remarkable equalizer in the 4-3 loss to France in the last 16.
In 2021, Di Maria surprised many by returning to Benfica, his first club, on a free transfer to finish his career where it all started. He quickly regained his status as a fan favorite, scoring seven goals and providing two assists in 14 games during the 2023/24 season.
His impressive performances earned him a national team recall for the 2023 Copa America, where he played in all six games for Argentina, scoring two goals and providing an assist, and was named in the tournament's team of the tournament. He delivered a memorable performance in the final against Brazil at the Maracana Stadium, scoring the winning goal with a sublime lob over goalkeeper Ederson.
After the victory, he announced his retirement from international football, expressing his desire to end his career on a high note and make way for the younger generation, while expressing gratitude to his teammates, coaches, fans, and family for their support over his 15-year international career.
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