Former national team assistant captain Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza says that representing the country has been his greatest honour following his retirement from international football.
Mugiraneza, 34, confirmed his retirement to Times Sport in an exclusive interview on Thursday, August 13, marking the end of a glittering international football career spanning 14 years during which he scored seven goals in 68 appearances.
Currently playing for Tanzanian side KMC, Mugiraneza made his international debut in 2006 when Rwanda hosted Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup. Amavubi finished third.
But, he had received his first maiden call-up a year earlier, though, he did not make it to the final Amavubi squad that held Nigeria to a 1-all draw in the 2006 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
“I retire a happy man, with great memories and no regrets. I gave all I could for my country for 14 years, and this will forever be my greatest honour,” he said, acknowledging that “it would not have been possible without the support of my teammates, the clubs I played for, and the media.”
He made his last appearance with the national team in September 2018 as Rwanda lost 2-1 to Côte d'Ivoire at Kigali Stadium during the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
“After 14 years with Amavubi, it is the right moment that I say my goodbyes and give space to younger players,” Mugiraneza further added, noting that he is still strong and able to compete at the highest level but “my only focus now is club football.”
Club football career
Mugiraneza, one of the most decorated midfielders of his generation, won the 2010 Cecafa Kagame Cup with APR, the club’s last of their three regional titles. He also inspired the army side to six league titles and five Peace Cups.
At the height of his career, in 2009, Mugiraneza was linked with a move to French Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais but the transfer did not materialise.
Mugiraneza also previously played for La Jeunesse and SC Kiyovu in the Rwanda Premier League, Azam FC in Tanzanian top tier league as well as Kenyan powerhouse Gor Mahia.Follow https://twitter.com/pkamasa