London - Rio Ferdinand announced on Wednesday that he was calling time on his
England career to concentrate on his club duties at Manchester United.
34-year-old centre-half won 81 caps in a controversial international
career that took him to three World Cups, but was overshadowed by
several off field incidents.
"After a great deal of thought, I
have decided the time is right for me to retire from international
football," he said in a statement.
"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."
Londoner, who hopes to sign an new contract with Premier League
champions United, has not played for England since featuring against
Switzerland in June 2011.
He was called up by England manager Roy
Hodgson for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro
in March this year but opted not to join the squad, instead travelling
to Qatar as a television pundit claiming his "intricate, pre-planned"
fitness programme would not allow him to play.
That decision was
widely interpreted as a snub to Hodgson, who had left him out of the
Euro 2012 squad for what the England manager described as "footballing
However, at the time Ferdinand's brother Anton was in
dispute with the Chelsea and England defender John Terry, whom he
claimed had racially abused him, and it was seen as a convenient way of
avoiding friction within the squad.
Hodgson said at the time: "I
was disappointed about it when he couldn't accept the invitation and it
was a pity it couldn't come about this time but we move on with this
squad of players."
Ferdinand was also involved in England
controversy in 2003 when he was reported to the Football Association for
failing to attend a drugs test and was left out of England's squad for a
Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey as a result.
He was punished with an eight-month ban, which ruled him out of Euro 2004, and also hit with a 50 000 ($75 000) fine.
England's squad for the friendlies against Ireland and Brazil set to be
announced on Thursday, Ferdinand's retirement means Hodgson will have
to look at alternatives at centre-back as Chris Smalling is injured.
Phil Jagielka and Manchester City's Joleon Lescott are likely
candidates to partner Gary Cahill at the heart of England's defence.
became England's youngest-ever defender when he made his debut shortly
after his 19th birthday in a friendly against Cameroon at Wembley in
And Hodgson refused to dwell on Ferdinand's recent issues as he saluted the defender's contribution to England.
is important to pay tribute to someone of Rio's stature and the
achievements he had in a senior international career with England over
14 years at the highest level," Hodgson said.
"To have captained
his country, to play at three World Cups and indeed score in one of
those, marks him out amongst a very special group of players."