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By ESPN Staff

Villa's Laursen quits international football

Denmark defender Martin Laursen has announced his retirement from international football.

The 31-year-old Aston Villa player, who made his debut against Portugal in March 2000, has clocked up 53 appearances for the Danes.

However, knee injuries have taken their toil in recent years and Laursen admitted it was time to call it quits.

"The thoughts of a return to the national team was an ambition which spurred me on through my injuries," he said.

"But my knee can no longer cope with playing for both Aston Villa and Denmark.

"In this situation the only answer is to make myself available to the club, who are my employers on a daily basis."

Laursen has been a valuable member of Denmark's squad since making his bow and helped them qualify for both the 2002 World Cup finals and Euro 2004.

The former AC Milan centre-back also scored the first of his two international goals in the European qualifier against Romania.

But his injury problems began soon after the tournament in Portugal and he spent two years on the international sidelines in order to recuperate from knee surgery and treatment.

Laursen's return to the Danish squad in June 2007 failed to help them reach last summer's European Championship, but their 2010 World Cup campaign has shown greater promise with the team top of qualifying Group One.

Yet another injury setback at the start of January, and subsequent surgery which will keep him out of action until mid-March, forced Laursen's hand.

The player admitted it was not easy informing Denmark coach Morten Olsen.

"The decision was my own and it's the most difficult I've ever had to make in my football career,'' he explained.

"I've done everything I could to avoid this because I love playing football. There's nothing I would rather do than try and help the national team qualify for the World Cup.''


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