Gabon captain and Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has retired from international football two weeks before the start of the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 qualifying campaign.
The 32-year-old made 68 total appearances for the Panthers and scored 29 goals, making him the nation’s all-time leading scorer.
The Gabonese Football Association (Fegafoot) said it had received a letter from Aubameyang announcing its decision.
“After 13 years of proudly representing my country, I would like to announce that I am retiring from international football,” wrote the former Arsenal star.
“I want to thank the Gabonese people and everyone who has supported me through good times and bad.
“I will always have great memories, like the day I made my debut or the day I came back from Nigeria with the African Player of the Year award. It’s an unforgettable moment to share with everyone.
“I want to thank my dad who made me want to be like him and I hope I made him proud to wear our colors.”
In response, Fegafoot acknowledged his “immense career” and a player “who, thanks to his professionalism, knew how to promote Gabon’s image around the world”.
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will always be a role model for future generations,” added Fegafoot.
“The big football family can continue to count on his expertise in the future.”
Aubameyang was born in France and played for France Under-21s but moved to Gabon to follow in his father’s footsteps, who captained the team in their first Nations Cup finals in 1994.
He didn’t always have a warm relationship with Fegafoot, not even in 2018 when he criticizes The governing body for announcing his father would be the new national coach before a deal was finalized.
Aubameyang scored in his international debut in a 2-1 win in Morocco in 2009 and has represented his country in four Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The forward was included in Gabon’s squad for this year’s belated 2021 Nations’ Cup but missed all games in Cameroon after first contracting and then suffering from Covid-19 of reported “heart lesions”.
The Panthers start their campaign of qualifying for the 2023 tournament in Ivory Coast on June 4 away to Congo DR before playing a second Group I game at home to Mauritania four days later.