The pipita say goodbye Gonzalo Higuaín (34 years old, Brest, France) announced this Monday that he will retire once he finishes this season with Inter Miami, that he will play the play-offs thanks to a goal from the Argentine in the last game against Toronto in the 86th minute. Broken with pain from the start, the Argentine striker announced at a press conference that “the day has come to say goodbye to football”. After 17 years of sports career, 14 titles won in Argentina, Spain, Italy and England, and 361 goals in 782 games, one of the most popular strikers of recent years is saying goodbye. As loved as hated, Higuaín will always be the pipita, the son of former soccer player Jorge Nicolás Pipe Higuaín, who arrived in Europe at just 19 years old and made a name for himself in the best competitions in the world. Fortune was not always on his side and many will remember his failures more than his successes, but no one disputes that he is one of the greatest predators of the goal that South American football has given in the 21st century.
Unable to contain his tears, Higuaín has reviewed his career, highlighting each club he has passed through, from his professional debut with River Plate at the age of 17, through his time at Real Madrid. “One day, my father came into my room while he was sleeping and told me: ‘Gonzalo, Real Madrid is going to buy you!’ I told him: ‘don’t fuck with me, I’m not for these jokes’. But it was real.” On January 1, 2007, he landed at the Santiago Bernabéu at the age of 19 and with the mission of competing with Raúl or Van Nistelrooy. The Argentine shook the foundations of the Castellana temple with his charisma and goalscoring instinct from day one. In his first year, under Capello, he was key to conquering the comeback league with a goal against Espanyol in the 90th minute (the match ended 4-3 for Madrid). The following season he was important again to lift the league title with eight goals in 22 games and established himself as Real Madrid’s starting center forward at the age of 21.
In 2009, with the return of Florentino to the club’s presidency and the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká and, above all, Benzema, he once again faced fierce competition for the starting job. One of his great supporters was Mourinho, who confessed his love for him to the detriment of the Frenchman with one of his most famous phrases: “when you have a dog you hunt with a dog, but if you don’t you have to hunt with a cat”, commented the coach before a game in which Higuaín was absent and Benzema should have started. With the Portuguese he added another league title, the season of records in which, together with Cristiano and Benzema, he formed the highest scoring trident in the history of football at that time with 118 goals (60 by Cristiano, 32 by Benzema and 26 by Higuain). In 2013, both the coach and the striker left the Bernabéu, and he headed to Napoli after 264 games in which he scored 121 goals, 15th on the white club’s list of top scorers.
In Naples he assumed the role of leader and accumulated several milestones in Serie A. He won the Italian Cup in his first year, Napoli’s first title since Maradona’s time, and also added a Super Cup against Juventus, in which he scored two goals to force a penalty shootout. In his last season in southern Italy, he broke the record for goals in a season in Serie A with 36 goals, and Juve decided to break the bank for him by paying 90 million euros. Of bianconero reached the 2017 Champions League final, in which they lost to Real Madrid, and added three league titles and two cups. His subsequent years, in which he went through Milan and Chelsea, did not do justice to his great career, which is coming to an end in the United States MLS.
The thorn of selection
The turning point in Higuaín’s career was the 2014 World Cup, in which Argentina reached the final against Germany, thanks to his goal in the semifinals against Belgium. He was not successful in the Maracana game and the Albiceleste fans began to take it out on the striker, who ended up being made into a ball by the team. After the failures in the 2015 and 2016 Copa América finals against Chile, he was one of the targets of the enraged Albicelestes fans, and the footballer came to denounce threats. In 2019 he decided to resign from the national team, so that “they would stop worrying if he was going or not.” Despite all the controversy, Higuain is one of the most important figures of the Albiceleste team in recent years, fifth all-time top scorer with 32 goals, the same as Maradona.