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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 4, 2006

Roberto Carlos retires from international action

SAO PAULO, July 4 (Reuters) - Brazilian Roberto Carlos has quit international soccer following Brazil's 1-0 quarter-final defeat to France in which he was widely blamed for failing to mark goalscorer Thierry Henry.

'On the Brazilian national team, my story has ended,' he said on his official Web site.

'I want to open space for new blood. I hope I can give this number six jersey to someone who might carry on this victorious history.

'I thank my team mates and the supporters who were always on my side. A big hug to everyone.'

Roberto Carlos, famous for his booming left-foots shot, played at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups and won 125 caps for Brazil in full internationals.

However, he has had a chequered history with the national side.

He was much criticised for his performances in 1998, when Brazil finished as runners-up to France, and also criticised after being quoted as saying he could not understand how anyone could live on less than several thousand dollars a month.

'I wear an apartment on my arm,' he added in a newspaper interview, referring to a watch worth thousands of dollars.

Brazilians - most of whom scrape by on around $100 a month - replied by giving him a new nickname: 'O mascarado' (the masked one).

In this context, it meant big-headed.

Roberto Carlos claimed that he had been misinterpreted, that he has always proud to represent his country and that he has not changed since his humble upbringing in the state of Sao Paulo.

In 2002, he bounced back, playing an important part in the team which won Brazil's fifth world title.

But this year, he was under fire again and many critics said it was he who should have been marking Henry when he scored France's winner on Saturday.

Roberto Carlos, whose club future with Real Madrid is also in doubt, started as a player with provincial club Uniao Sao Joao.

He joined big city Palmeiras at the age of 18 and quickly made an impression, winning the Brazilian championships in 1993 and 1994.

He left for Europe in 1996 to play for Inter Milan in Italy, moving to Real Madrid after one season where he won three Champions League titles.

With Brazil, he also won the Copa America in 1997 and 1999 and the Confederations Cup in 1997.

He is likely to be haunted by some of his brash predictions during the 2006 World Cup. 'Brazil aren't going to lose this cup,' he said at one stage.