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May 15, 2013

Ferdinand calls time on England career

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from international football with England.

• Hodgson planning for future
•  Gallery: Rio for EnglandPhoto Gallery

Ferdinand, 34, has just celebrated winning his sixth Premier League title with United and his desire to continue playing for the English champions was central to the decision.

"After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football," Ferdinand said in a statement on the FA's official website.

"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.

"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.

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

"A big thank you to all the fans, managers, coaching staff and players that I have worked alongside - the journey has been incredible."

England boss Roy Hodgson said Ferdinand, whose last England game came in 2011, could be proud of his achievements for the Three Lions over a 14-year international career.

"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," Hodgson said.

"To have captained his country, to play at three World Cups and indeed score in one of those, marks him out amongst 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 before reaching this point.

"I wish him all the best in his club career, and I'm sure the former managers he played under and every England fan will join me in thanking him for his service."

Ferdinand made his England debut at the age of 19 against Cameroon in 1997 and went to three World Cups (1998, 2002 and 2006) with his country.

The former West Ham and Leeds centre-back formed formidable partnerships, first with Sol Campbell and later with John Terry, and was first-choice for the Three Lions for almost a decade.

However, his international career did not always run smoothly. In 2004, the FA banned Ferdinand for eight months after he missed a drugs test, with the defender absent from Euro 2004 as a result.

In 2010, he was made England captain after John Terry was stripped of the armband following allegations about his private life, but injury on the eve of the World Cup in South Africa prevented Ferdinand from skippering his side at the finals.

The last of his 81 caps came against Switzerland in June 2011, though he was tipped to play at Euro 2012 before being overlooked by Hodgson in the wake of a falling out with Terry, sparked by the allegations that the Chelsea defender racially abused his brohter Anton.

Terry's international retirement last October appeared to pave the way for an England return, but Ferdinand caused controversy when pulling out of Hodgson's squad for March's World Cup qualifiers.

And despite an impressive season with United, which saw him named in the PFA Team of the Year, Ferdinand has opted to call time on his Three Lions career.

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