Czech Republic striker Milan Baroš has announced his retirement from international football following his country's quarter-final exit at UEFA EURO 2012.
The 30-year-old, who made his international debut in 2001, won his 93rd and final cap as the Czechs were beaten 1-0 by Portugal on Thursday evening. After the final whistle at the National Stadium Warsaw, he announced to his team-mates in the dressing room that it would be his last appearance for his country, a statement that drew a round of applause from the rest of the squad.
"I am really sorry to hear this," said coach Michal Bílek, who selected Baroš to start all four of his country's games at the finals in Poland and Ukraine. "He's not at an age when he should be ending his international career – he still has the class to be in the squad. We will see how much we are going to miss him. He is unique and extraordinary, and could have helped us all. But there is nothing else I can do other than to thank him."
"All the players applauded Milan after the match in the dressing room," added Vladimír Šmicer, the former Czech international midfielder and now team manager, at a press conference held in Prague following the team's return from Warsaw. "I have been with the national team for 15 years and I have never seen anything like it."
Top scorer at UEFA EURO 2004 with five goals, Baroš did not find the net during the 2012 edition, meaning his international tally remains at 41, putting him second only to Jan Koller (55) in the Czech Republic's all-time scorers' list.
Baroš may soon be joined by Tomáš Rosický in withdrawing from international competition, with the Arsenal FC midfielder considering his own future in his country's colours having struggled with an Achilles tendon injury during the tournament.
"I have my age, and problems with my fitness," said the 31-year-old, who missed the rest of the Czechs' tournament after going off at half-time in their second Group A game with Greece. "The older I get, the worse it will be. If I could, I would play until I'm 50, but I'm not stupid. As time passes, the boys who started playing with me in the national team are quitting – that's also not easy for me to see."
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