Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville has described striker Gonzalo Higuain as ‘one of the best’ he’s ever worked with in professional soccer.
Despite hitting strong form for the Herons, scoring 14 goals in 26 MLS appearances this season, including six in his last six games, Higuain announced his shock retirement on Monday, effective at the end of the 2022 campaign.
Across his own playing career with Manchester United, Everton, and England, Neville lined up alongside some of the greatest forwards of their time – and, in some cases, all-time – including Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, and Michael Owen.
Even so, Neville’s opinion of Higuain couldn’t be much higher.
“He’s, without doubt, one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen, worked with, or played with,” he told reporters following the 34-year-old’s announcement. “He’s incredible. He has that street football mentality of wanting to train every day. He never wants a day off. Very quickly I realized he had something that you can’t coach or teach.”
Of course, for all his goals and honors, Higuain has a complicated legacy. A serial La Liga and Serie A winner with Real Madrid and Juventus and iconic goalscorer with Napoli, the forward is more likely to be remembered in his homeland for his miss in Argentina’s 1-0 defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.
But despite that setback, Higuain’s form rarely wavered at club level and Neville was quick to praise the 75-time international’s menality and ability to prove himself through adversity.
“There were a lot of questions about him and the team,” Neville said. “We spoke about legacy, how he wants to be remembered, all the things that are important. You have two choices: Waive the white flag and give up or you show who you are. What he’s shown on and off the field, he’s proven he’s world-class, a great person, and a winner.”
Inter Miami have two more regular-season matches remaining at home to Orlando City and CF Montreal. Higuain will hope to extend his career just a little longer by ensuring the Herons remain above the MLS Cup Playoffs line, currently occupying seventh-place in the Eastern Conference.
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