Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane has announced his retirement from international football.
Varane is one of the most successful active players in Europe, having won the World Cup and the Nations League with France alongside his countless successes at club level with Real Madrid.
The 29-year-old recovered from an injury scare to play a major role in France’s World Cup run in Qatar, sitting out the first game before starting the rest en route to a 113-minute showing in the final against Argentina, only leaving the field after appearing to collapse to the ground in exhaustion.
That game was Varane’s 93rd for his country, and he has confirmed it will be his last.
“Representing our great country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life,” Varane wrote. “Each time I wore this special blue jersey, I felt immense pride. The duty to give everything, to play with my heart and to win every time we entered the field. I have been considering this for several months and have decided that it is the right time for me to retire from international football.
“As a child, I remember following France ’98, this team, these players who made us experience indescribable emotions. I dreamed of doing like our heroes and, 20 years later, I had one of the best experiences of my life, one that made me really proud. We brought the Cup home!! I will never forget that. I still feel every single emotion I felt that day, July 15, 2018. It was one of the greatest and most memorable moments of my life.
“This victory that we won together would never have been possible without the support of Didier Deschamps, of each of the members of the management and our staff during these years, of my teammates who defended our shirt in each of our matches..
But more importantly, this victory would not have been possible without the support of each of you along this path. Your enthusiasm, the celebrations and the memories of our return to France will remain etched in my mind forever.
“Even after the defeat in the final last year, with certainly a great run, you welcomed us as heroes when we returned. To each and every one of you, a thousand times THANK YOU!
“I will miss these moments with you for sure, but the time has come for the new generation to take over. We have a group of talented young players who are ready to take over, who deserve a chance and who need you.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Rapha.”