(TalkSport) – Gonzalo Higuain was in tears during his final game in professional football – on the same night former teammate Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or.
Benzema took home football’s most prestigious individual award in Paris after an astonishing Champions League campaign saw him net 15 goals, many of which came in jaw-dropping comebacks. During that time, Higuain – who is the same age at 34 – was playing in MLS for Inter Miami and has now retired from the sport.
Higuain’s final game proved to be a disappointing 3-0 defeat for Inter Miami against New York City FC in the first round of the MLS play-offs.
He bows out though with many memorable moments, having won 71 caps for Argentina and played for elite clubs including Juventus, Chelsea, AC Milan and, of course, Real Madrid.
His trophy haul includes three LaLiga titles with Madrid and three Serie A crowns with Juve, as well as the Europa League with Chelsea.
But his career somewhat curtailed towards the end in comparison with Benzema, who is just nine days older than him.
The two had arrived at Real Madrid around a similar time, with Higuain joining from River Plate in 2007, while Benzema was one of Florentino Perez’s ‘Galactico’ signings upon his 2009 return as president.
A £27million signing from Lyon, Benzema eventually fought off Higuain for his place in the team, with club legend Raul leaving in 2010 and Cristiano Ronaldo needing a support act up front.
Despite Benzema’s recent heroics, that decision wasn’t always clear cut, with many hitting out at Perez’s decision to back his golden boy over the Argentine, including Jose Mourinho.
With Higuain out injured for the remainder of the season in 2011 and no one signed as back-up, the then Real Madrid coach said: “If I can’t hunt with a dog, I will hunt with a cat.
“With a dog you hunt more and you hunt better.
“But if you have not got a dog and you have got a cat, you hunt with a cat.”
Benzema clearly took those comments personally as he went on to become one of the club’s all-time great players, taking home five Champions League titles and only increasing in importance since Ronaldo left in 2018.
But Mourinho wasn’t the only one on the Higuain side of the debate, with plenty of fans torn over Perez’s brilliantly intelligent golden child being picked over the South American passion-filled all-out attacker.
During their time together in the Spanish capital, Higuain out-scored Benzema by 57 goals to 48, and the debate only increased when the former signed for Napoli in 2013.
Higuain was a key figure as Argentina made the 2014 World Cup final, but missed a crucial chance in defeat to Germany, while in Madrid it was still the Ronaldo show.
The Serie A scoring record was then broken by Higuain in 2016 when he fired in 36 goals to become a legend at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, a legacy he tarnished by joining Juventus that summer.
It was all downhill from there with loans to AC Milan and Chelsea before leaving for the US, while Benzema turned into one of football’s greatest ever players.