Man Utd defender Ferdinand calls time on England career

Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from international football, BBC Sport has reported, with the Manchester United defender winning 81 England caps but not appearing for the national team since 2011.

Ferdinand was called back into the England set-up by manager Roy Hodgson for the March fixtures against San Marino and Montenegro, only to withdraw from the squad after concerns over his ability to maintain his club-approved fitness programme while on international duty.

The 34-year-old never played for England under Hodgson, with the manager insisting he overlooked Ferdinand for what were termed “football reasons”, rather than to avoid a conflict between Ferdinand and John Terry after Terry was accused and later cleared of racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother, the former Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

Ferdinand said in a statement: “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.

Hodgson was informed of the former Leeds and West Ham defender’s decision in a phone call, and added: “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. 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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