Rio Ferdinand retires from international football

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from international football.

Ferdinand has not featured for England under Roy Hodgson but turned down the opportunity to return to the panel for the World Cup qualifiers in March, citing a worry over his fitness.

Although the 34-year-old has spoken of desire to sign a new contract at Old Trafford, he has decided to call time on his international career after 81 caps.

“After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football,” said Ferdinand.

“At the age of 34, 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 U17s 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.”

Hodgson omitted Ferdinand from his squad for last summer’s Euro 2012 finals but recalled him ahead of the double-header in March, only for the former captain to withdraw from the squad.

Paying tribute to the Premier League winner, Hodgson said: “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.

“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.

“I wish him all the best in his club career, and I’m sure the former managers he played under and every England fan will join me in thanking him for his service.”