The 23-year-old feels the abuse he and his team-mates have suffered has affected his mother, resulting in him ending his international career

Iran striker Sardar Azmoun has quit the national team at the age of 23 following their elimination from the World Cup.

Iran were knocked out of the tournament after finishing third in Group B, just one point behind Spain and Portugal.

Carlos Queiroz’s team earned the respect and admiration of football fans across the world as they impressed in a narrow defeat to Spain and then came close to getting the better of Euro 2016 winners Portugal, only to see a late effort hit the side-netting with the game tied at 1-1.

Despite their performances, Azmoun, who played the entirety of their three group matches, feels the reaction to their loss has been difficult to accept.

The forward feels insulted by comments from national team supporters and believes they have resulted in his mother becoming ill again. 

“It was a great honour for me to play in my national team, and I will be proud of myself till the end of my life,” he wrote on Instagram. 

“Unfortunately, with all the interest I have, and contrary to my heart’s desire, I decided to say goodbye to the national team of my country.

“It’s definitely the most painful decision for a young 23-year-old who has come here with a lot of hardship and misery.

“My mother had overcome a serious illness and I was happy. 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, known as the ‘Iranian Messi’, made his debut for the national team in 2014 and went on to score 23 goals in 36 games.

He is the latest Iran player to call time on his international career, having seen striker Reza Ghoochannejhad announce his retirement upon their return from Russia.