'I nearly quit football' – New Chelsea signing Higuain reveals anguish over mother's illness

The Argentine will play the rest of the season alongside former mentor Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge after ending a loan spell with AC Milan

New Chelsea signing Gonzalo Higuain has revealed the anguish over a life-threatening illness suffered by his mother which almost prompted him to leave football altogether.

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Higuain, 31, this week sealed a move to Stamford Bridge that saw the Blues assume the remainder of the loan deal the Argentine had previously agreed to join AC Milan from Juventus.

The move sees him team up once more with Maurizio Sarri, rekindling a partnership that brought scores of goals when the pair worked together at Napoli.

But Higuain admits that he almost retired from professional football in 2016, after learning that that his mother Nancy suffered from a serious medical condition – she has since made a full recovery –  following Argentina’s defeat in the Copa America final to Chile.

“I decided immediately that I must stop playing football so that I could look after my mum,” Higuain explained to the Mirror.

“I suspected something was wrong at home during the Copa America, but it was still a huge shock when I was told the truth.

“I felt guilty, because I played in that final without knowing. My whole world came crashing down in that moment. I was not interested in anything else but my mum.

“I told her I was finished with football and if it had been down to me I would have stopped playing.

“Her reply was that when I played football it made her happy. She told me that she would not allow me to give up something I loved. She asked me to carry on for her — and I knew I had to grant that wish.

“My family and friends are everything to me. After that, comes football. People need to understand that. They see you kick a ball and they don’t think you have anything to think about outside the game.”

With Alvaro Morata set for a move to Atletico Madrid before the close of the January transfer window, Higuain’s main rival for a starting spot up front is likely to be Olivier Giroud.

And the France international is eager go head to head with Pipita, believing that competition for places will only serve as extra motivation. 

“Gonzalo’s arrival will help me to step up again and keep me fighting to be competitive by working hard in training,” he explained.

“And it’s going to be a benefit for the team. I hope he will help us to win trophies.”

Chelsea continue their FA Cup challenge on Sunday at home to Sheffield Wednesday, before travelling to Bournemouth in Wednesday’s Premier League test.

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