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By ESPN Staff

Frei to quit international football

Switzerland captain Alex Frei has announced he is retiring from international football at the end of the season, claiming fierce criticism of his recent performances made up his mind.

FC Basle striker Frei, Switzerland's record goalscorer with 40 in 81 games, will be available for his country for the final time in their Euro 2012 qualifier against England at Wembley next June.

He talked extensively with his family and colleagues, and with Basle and Switzerland, before making his decision, according to a statement on the Swiss FA's official website.

"In my decision I took into account the numerous positive wishes, requests and pieces of advice of all those people who encouraged me to continue my international career," he said. "Equally, I bore in mind and took seriously the signals of those groups who recently have made no secret of their opinion that their time in the national team is over."

Frei added he was announcing his decision early so as not to leave the team in the lurch and give coach Ottmar Hitzfeld plenty of time to prepare for his retirement.

Hitzfeld said: "I am very sorry about Alex's plans to retire from the national team at the end of the season, because we will be losing one of the most experienced and successful performers of recent years and the most prolific Swiss striker of all time.

"On the other hand I respect Alex's decision. It was anything but easy for him to make this decision."

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