England centurion Ashley Cole has announced his retirement from international football after failing to make the Three Lions squad for this summer's FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.
Manager Roy Hodgson is set to name his travelling party on Monday and informed Cole ahead of time that he would not be involved. "I got the call from Roy and agree the England team should be about the young players," explained Cole, capped 107 times by his country. "I think it best I retire from the England team now. We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything."
The 33-year-old Chelsea FC defender thus calls time on an international career which began in 2001, when the then Arsenal FC left-back made his debut in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win against Albania. He went on to represent his country at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups as well as UEFA EURO 2004 and UEFA EURO 2012. The 2012 UEFA Champions League winner won his 100th cap against Brazil in February 2013, before his final appearance against Denmark in March, and retires as England's fifth-most capped player, despite failing to score throughout his international career.
"Among many difficult decisions I've had to make for my squad, not selecting Ashley was one of the hardest," said Hodgson. "He's been an incredible competitor for England, to amass over a century of caps is a truly staggering achievement and he deserves enormous credit for the desire and brilliance which has shone through over the years he has represented his country. There are few players who can be considered among the very best in the world, but Ashley in his prime was the best left-back without question."
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