Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from international football.
The Manchester United star became the youngest defender to be capped by England, when he featured against Cameroon in 1997 just a week after turning 19. He has gone on to make 81 appearances, but has not featured since June 2011 when he lined up against Switzerland in a qualifier for Euro 2012, a tournament he would go on to miss.
At the time, Roy Hodgson chose not to pick the former West Ham United and Leeds United player for ‘football reasons’, yet his brother Anton was at the time in dispute with John Terry, who he had accused of racially abusing him, and it was widely thought that his exclusion was to avoid having them both in the squad for the Finals.
Ferdinand, who at the weekend celebrated a sixth league title at Old Trafford, did play for his country in the World Cup Finals of 2002, 2006 and 2010. After withdrawing from the recent qualifiers in March due to a dedicated programme to deal with his injury problems, he has now announced his retirement from international football.
“After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football,” he said. “At the age of 34, I feel it is right for me to stand aside and let the younger players come through, which allows me to concentrate on my club career. The team looks in great shape and there is an influx of young, talented players coming through the ranks which bodes well for the future.
“I regard it as a great honour to have represented my country at every level from U17s upwards. I have always been very proud to play for England. I would like to wish Roy and the team all the best for future tournaments. A big thank you to all the fans, managers, coaching staff and players that I have worked alongside – the journey has been incredible.”
Ferdinand is out of contract at United in the summer, but it looks increasingly likely he will be offered a new deal by incoming manager David Moyes. Despite concerns over his fitness, only Patrice Evra of United’s back four options has played more minutes in the Premier League than the centre-half this season.