Iran’s Sardar Azmoun has quit international football at the age of 23 after claiming the insults directed at him have impacted his ill mother.

Azmoun – nicknamed the ‘Iranian Messi’ – had scored 23 goals in 33 games for his country before the tournament.

He did not find the net in Russia as Carlos Queiroz’s side finished third in Group B behind Spain and Portugal.

According to BBC Sport, Azmoun described his decision to stop playing for Iran as “painful”.

“My mother had overcome a serious illness and I was happy,” said Azmoun, who plays his club football in Russia for Rubin Kazan.

“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.”

Azmoun made his debut for Iran at the age of 19.

He is fifth on his country’s list of all-time top scorers and was compared to national hero Ali Daei, the record international goalscorer of all-time with 109 goals in 149 appearances.

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