Azmoun retires from Iran duty aged 23 after abuse

Iran striker Sardar Azmoun has announced his retirement from international football aged just 23 after claiming abuse from supporters has made his mother seriously ill.

Hopes were high for the ‘Iranian Messi’ on the eve of the World Cup after Azmoun had netted 23 goals in 33 games for his country, including finding the net 11 times in qualifying.

However, he drew a blank in Russia as Iran finished third in Group B behind the heavyweight pair of Spain and Portugal.

After Iran were eliminated from the competition, Azmoun says the personal insults have become so bad that it has affected the health of his mother, which has led him to retire from international duty.

“My mother had overcome a serious illness and I was happy,” said the Rubin Kazan frontman.

“Unfortunately because of the unkindness of some people, and the insults that me and my team-mates in no way deserved, her illness has become severe.

“This has put me in a difficult position where I must pick one or the other – and as a result I pick my mother.”