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Chilavert says acrid goodbye

Asuncion: Fiery Paraguayan goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert said on Wednesday that he was quitting the national team and accused the directors of stabbing him in the back.

“Lamentably, one can’t work in an organised manner in our country,” said Chilavert, who was apparently angry at being left out of the squad for next month’s friendly internationals against Portugal and Japan.

“One thinks that they really like you but in the end I realised that when things go wrong, you’re left on your own, you fall down on your own and then they punch you in the back. I’m above them all because nobody can rub out what I’ve achieved in world football,” he told Radio Nanduti.

“I’m the one who got them the match with Japan, I’m the one who got them the match with Portugal.”

The 37-year-old, a free-kick and penalty specialist who has scored more than 50 goals in his career, has led his country to the last two World Cups and been the backbone of the national team for over a decade.

But he has had a love-hate relationship with the team and has pulled out on more than one occasion in the past. He refused to play when Paraguay hosted the 1999 Copa America, saying his country should spend money on schools and hospitals rather then refurbishing stadiums.

Chilavert has been out of action since September when he was sacked by French club Strasbourg amid a row over alleged contract forgery. He had refused to play for Strasbourg since the start of the season, saying the contract document produced by the club was false and claiming he should have received $4.4 million from his transfer from Argentine club Velez Sarsfield. He was close to returning to his homeland to play for Cerro Porteno in January but the move fell through.

Chilavert’s most famous goal came against Argentina in a World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires, when his free-kick gave Paraguay a 1-1 draw. Other feats included a hattrick during an Argentine championship match for Velez Sarsfield in 1999.

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