In a decision that seemed to catch everyone out, France and Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane has announced his retirement from international football.
The Manchester United defender was a key figure in helping Les Bleus lift the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and has ]made 93 caps for his country over the last decade.
The last of his caps was won in the 2022 World Cup final, in which France were beaten by Argentina on penalties.
“Representing our great country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life,” said Varane.
“Every time I wore this very special blue jersey I felt immense pride. The duty to give it all, play my heart out and win every time we put on the field.
“I’ve been contemplating this for several months and deciding it’s the right time for me to retire internationally.”
Varane, who signed for United from Real Madrid in August 2021, is the latest Les Bleus player to retire after the World Cup after Tottenham goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris stepped down three weeks last month.
“As a child, I remember following France 98, this team, these players who made us experience indescribable emotions,” said Varane.
“I dreamed of being our heroes and 20 years later I lived one of the best experiences of my life, one that made me really proud. We brought home the Cup!
“I will never forget it. I still feel every single one of the emotions felt on that day, July 15, 2018. That was one of the most amazing and memorable moments of my life.”
France reportedly had intended to hand Varane the captain’s armband in place of Lloris but now France coach Didier Deschamps has to of back to the drawing board on that decision
“I respect his decision even if it may seem a bit unfortunate given everything he was able to do with the national team through to the World Cup, during which he behaved like the leader we know he is from start to finish,” Deschamps said.