London - England captain Lewis Moody announced his retirement from international rugby on Sunday following his team's poor World Cup display in New Zealand.
The 33-year-old flanker, a World Cup winner with England in 2003 and veteran of 71 Tests, led the side which lost to France in the quarter-finals after a campaign dogged by controversy.
"I realised I might be making this decision before the World Cup started," Moody wrote in his column for The Mail on Sunday.
"It's a big decision to make and I feel emotional about making it, but it's the right thing to do for me and for the England rugby squad."
Moody, who will now concentrate on his domestic career with Bath, added: "My time with England has been unbelievable, even if the last few weeks have not gone so well."
Moody admitted that England's below-par World Cup performance should be the prompt for changes both at skipper and among the wider playing personnel.
"It's only right for the team to move on," he said.
"There will be changes, maybe in management and definitely in some of the match-day 22, and if England want to start planning for a successful World Cup here in four years' time, then it is my belief that they should be appointing a new captain from February to see the team right the way through to 2015.
"Even if they still wanted me to carry on, there's no way I'd last another four years, so it is absolutely right to stand down now and give someone else the opportunity to captain England."
Moody insists the squad retains its support for England coach Martin Johnson who skippered England to World Cup glory eight years ago.
"There is not a single member of the World Cup squad who does not believe Johnno should stay on and finish the job, just as Clive Woodward did after 1999," he said.
"I know the players are gutted that Johnno is taking so much flak. Nobody wants him to go."
Johnson hailed Moody's unwavering commitment to his country's cause.
Johnson said: "Lewis has been a great servant to English rugby and has literally put his body on the line more times than he can probably remember.
"To play in two World Cup finals and then lead his country in a third campaign is a great testament to him.
"He will be missed on and off the field and on behalf of everyone in the England squad, players, coaches and management, we wish him all the best for the rest of his career."
Moody retires from the international scene having scored nine tries for England and having skippered his country on 11 occasions, the final occasion the 19-12 defeat to France in the quarter-finals earlier this month.
He also won three caps for the British and Irish Lions, a figure which, like his England appearances, would have been higher save for a string of injuries, which included a broken ankle in 2009 and a knee injury which ruled him out of this year's Six Nations.