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Manchester United defender Ferdinand retires from international football

updated 8:33 AM EDT, Wed May 15, 2013
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has represented England 81 times, but not since June 2011.
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has represented England 81 times, but not since June 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand retires from international football
  • Ferdinand won 81 caps for England
  • The 34-year-old defender made debut against Cameroon at Wembley in 1997
  • Ferdinand last played for England in June 2011

(CNN) -- The retirements are coming thick and fast out of Old Trafford, with Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand the latest to call time -- on his international career.

The 34-year-old's retirement follows the farce that ensued in March when he was recalled by England manager Roy Hodgson for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, only for Ferdinand to quickly withdraw due to his "pre-planned fitness program" with his club.

In a statement released by the English Football Association, Ferdinand explained that he wanted to retire from international football to "concentrate on my club career."

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Alex Ferguson with the English Premier League trophy after Manchester United's 2-1 win over Swansea. Alex Ferguson with the English Premier League trophy after Manchester United's 2-1 win over Swansea.
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Everton manager David Moyes (left) and Manchester United's soon-to-retire boss Alex Ferguson (right) are pictured during the FA Cup semifinal match between their two teams at Wembley Stadium in April 2009. United announced Wednesday that Ferguson, 71, will be retiring at the end of the season after more than a quarter of a century at the helm. Everton manager David Moyes (left) and Manchester United's soon-to-retire boss Alex Ferguson (right) are pictured during the FA Cup semifinal match between their two teams at Wembley Stadium in April 2009. United announced Wednesday that Ferguson, 71, will be retiring at the end of the season after more than a quarter of a century at the helm.
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"After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football," added Ferdinand, who has not played for England since a Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland in June 2011.

"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 honor 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."

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In October, Hodgson was forced to apologize to Ferdinand after an English newspaper reported he had told fellow commuters during a tube journey on London's underground that the Manchester United defender's international career was over.

Ferdinand had been controversially left out of England's squad for Euro 2012 despite the United defender expressing his desire to add to his 81 international caps.

After leaving Ferdinand out of his Euro 2012 squad, Hodgson opted to take Chelsea captain John Terry, though the defender had been due in court to face allegations he racially abused Rio's brother, Anton Ferdinand.

Hodgson insisted it was purely a football decision and Terry was cleared in July. But he was banned for four matches on the same charge by the FA and announced his retirement from international football.

After making his debut against Cameroon at Wembley in 1997, Ferdinand went on to win 81 caps for England, playing in three World Cups.

"It's 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," said Hodgson

"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."

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