Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from international football with immediate effect.

The Manchester United centre back has won 81 caps for England since making his debut against Cameroon at Wembley in 1997.

However, the 34-year-old has not featured for his country since the 2-2 draw against Switzerland in a European Championship qualifier back in 2011, and is now focusing fully on his club career.

"After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right to retire from international football," said Ferdinand in a statement.

"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. 

“The team looks in great shape and there is an influx of young, talented players coming through the ranks, which bodes well for the future."

Ferdinand did receive a call-up from new manager Roy Hodgson back in March ahead of two crucial World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.

However, the defender withdrew to continue on his ‘pre-planned fitness programme’, which has paid dividends throughout the season as Manchester United won another Premier League title. Since joining the Red Devils in 2002, Ferdinand has lifted six domestic crowns.

Despite receiving heavy criticism at the time, the veteran stressed that it has always been ‘an honour and a privilege’ to play for the Three Lions, and wished the team good luck ahead of their remaining Euro 2014 qualifiers.

“I regard it as a great honour and a privilege to have represented my country at every level from Under-17s upwards,” he concluded.

"I have always been very proud to play for England. I would like to wish Roy and the team all the best for future tournaments."

Ferdinand scored his first goal for England in a World Cup second round match against Denmark back in 2002, and captained his country for the first time in defeat to France six years later.

During his international career, the former West Ham and Leeds defender never played in a European Championship tournament.

Topics:
#Internationals
#Rio Ferdinand
#Manchester United
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