Rio Ferdinand's England Retirement Is Disappointing End for Man Utd Defender

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterMay 15, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 04:  Rio Ferdinand of England (R) tackles Granit Xhaka of Switzerland during the UEFA EURO 2012 group G qualifying match between England and Switzerland at Wembley Stadium on June 4, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has confirmed his retirement from international football on the official club website, but the announcement comes as little surprise after his controversial withdrawal from the squad earlier this year.

The 34-year-old has called time on his England career after 81 caps for his country, citing a desire to concentrate on his club career and the influx of younger players for his decision.

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 (Hodgson) and the team all the best for future tournaments.

Ferdinand had not been selected for an England squad since his last international match against Switzerland in a Euro 2012 qualifier in June 2011.

The former Leeds and West Ham central defender then, unwittingly, became embroiled in the racism row involving his brother, QPR's Anton Ferdinand, and Chelsea captain John Terry.

Ferdinand and Terry were the first-choice centre-half partnership for former England manager Fabio Capello, but new boss Roy Hodgson omitted the United man from his squad for the European Championship finals in Poland and Ukraine for "footballing reasons," as reported by the BBC

However, Hodgson's decision also meant there would be no possible conflict with Terry, who faced a court case over the racism allegations after the tournament according to the Daily Mail.

Then, in October, the England manager was forced to offer an apology to Ferdinand for discussing the player's international future with passengers on a London Underground train as he travelled to a Champions League match Arsenal, as The Mirror reports.

Hodgson had informed one of the passengers that Ferdinand had reached "the end of the road" in his England career, but there was a further twist in the tale waiting further down the track.

In March this year, Hodgson faced a defensive crisis with Terry having retired, Phil Jagielka injured and a subsequent lack of cover.

And the former Fulham and Liverpool manager turned to Ferdinand with his first call-up for almost two years for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, but according to The Independent, he did so without notifying the player and his club.

But the United defender withdrew from the England squad as, per this Sky News report, his pre-planned training regime designed by the Old Trafford medical staff to offset a long-term back problem could not be adapted in time by England.

However, Ferdinand then went to Qatar to work as an analyst for Al Jazeera Television for England's 8-0 win over San Marino. It was a decision that did not go down well with a sizable number of England supporters attending the match, and the Daily Telegraph reports that they voiced their opinion in no uncertain terms.

According to BBC Sport, the United player defended his decision, but the die had been cast, which has, ultimately, ended in his retirement from the international arena.

Ferdinand's decision spares him and England any future potentially embarrassing barracking from some fans, but it is an unsatisfactory ending to an international career that was earned with distinction.