Former England captain Rio Ferdinand has retired from international football.
Ferdinand, 34, just helped Manchester United FC to their sixth Premier League title in his 11 seasons with the club but has opted not to add to his 81 England caps. He previously played for West Ham United FC and Leeds United AFC.
He made his debut against Cameroon on 15 November 1997, aged 19 years and eight days, to become England's youngest defender – 17 months after aiding his nation to third place at the UEFA European Under-18 Championship alongside future international team-mates Frank Lampard, Michael Owen and Emile Heskey. However, the veteran of three FIFA World Cups has not been selected since facing Switzerland in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier on 4 June 2011.
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."
England manager Roy Hodgson added: "It 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. To have captained his country, to play at three World Cups and indeed score in one, marks him out among a very special group of players. I appreciated the call from Rio to inform me of his decision, which clearly he had spent much time considering."
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