Rio Ferdinand has called time on his international career for England to keep his club career at Manchester United in good shape. The 34-year-old has informed England manager Roy Hodgson of his retirement before the Hodgson will announce the Three Lions squad for their friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.
Ferdinand won 81 caps for England during his 16-year career with the Three Lions, and was the youngest defender to ever to play for the national team when he made his debut for England in a match against Cameroon in 1997 at the age of 19. Although the center-back’s international career has been marred with numerous “incidents”, he has appeared at three World Cups (1998, 2002, and 2006). The 34-year-old has never appeared at the European Championships though, as he missed Euro 2004 after being banned by The FA for failing to appear at a drugs test, and England failed to qualify for Euro 2008.
Ferdinand said: “After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football.
“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 honor and a privilege to have represented my country at every level from under-17s 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 was appointed captain of the England squad for the 2010 World Cup after The FA stripped John Terry of the armband, but injury on the eve of the tournament saw Ferdinand miss England’s campaign. The Manchester United defender was favored to earn a spot in the England Euro 2012 squad, but manager Roy Hodgson overlooked the center-back for “footballing reasons”. After a two year absence from international duty Ferdinand was recalled to the England squad in February 2013, but the center-back withdrew from the squad to to his “pre-planned fitness program.”
The34-year-old recently won his sixth Premier League trophy with Manchester United, and although his £120,000-a-week contract ends at the end of the current season, Ferdinand is keen to sign a new one-year-deal.