Varane retires from international football
Raphael Varane made his French senior debut in 2013 and has 93 caps
The defender was part of the squad that won the 2018 World Cup in Russia
Retiring from international duty will allow him to focus on Manchester United
Raphael Varane has stunned France by announcing his retirement from international football – despite being touted as their next captain
The Manchester United star was a key figure in helping Les Bleus lift the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and has also made 93 caps for his country over the last decade.
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His retirement continues to mark the end of an era for Les Bleus, after Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris also announced his retirement from international duty last month.
France had intended to hand Varane the captain’s armband in place of Lloris, but in a statement on Twitter, the Manchester United defender has put a swift end to those plans.
‘The duty to give everything, to play with my heart and to win every time we entered the field. I have been considering this for several months and have decided that it is the right time for me to retire from international football.
‘As a child, I remember following France 98, this team, these players who made us experience indescribable emotions. I dreamed of doing like our heroes and, 20 years later, I had one of the best experiences of my life, one that made me really proud.
‘We brought the Cup home!! I will never forget him. I still feel every single emotion I felt that day, July 15, 2018. It was one of the greatest and most memorable moments of my life.
‘This victory that we won together would never have been possible without the support of Didier Deschamps, of each of the members of the management and our staff during these years, of my teammates who defended our shirt at each of our matches.
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‘But more importantly, this victory would not have been possible without the support of each of you along this path. Your enthusiasm, the celebrations and the memories of our return to France will remain etched in my mind forever.
‘I will miss these moments with you for sure, but the time has come for the new generation to take over. We have a group of talented young players who are ready to take over, who deserve a chance and who need you.’
After the news was announced, Deschamps said: ‘ Raphael called me a few days ago to explain to me that he wanted to put an end to his international career. He is an intelligent boy, who knows how to take the time to reflect, weigh the pros and cons before deciding.
‘Without going into the details of our exchange, Raphael believes that he has reached the end of his adventure with the France team. I experienced a situation somewhat similar to his, I understand his arguments and respect his decision even if it may seem regrettable in view of all that he was able to do with the selection until the World Cup during which he behaved, from start to finish, like the leader we know.
‘Of course, I can’t turn this page without a certain emotion, given the ties we’ve forged since August 2012. Like Hugo Lloris, he will have been on all my lists, barring injury.
‘Raphael, who was then a young talent in the making at Real Madrid, was in my first for the friendly match against Uruguay in Le Havre. He quickly established himself as a starter. I especially remember his authority during the comeback play-off against Ukraine in 2013. A first high-level performance.
‘The first of a long list. If I did not hesitate to entrust him with the armband at 21, it is because he was already showing leadership in the group in his own way and with others. “Rapha” was an effective relay, one of the guarantors of the collective and its values.
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‘After Blaise Matuidi, Steve Mandanda and Hugo Lloris, Raphaël is the fourth 2018 world champion to retire internationally. As our paths diverge, I wanted to salute his honesty, his unwavering commitment to the blue jersey.
‘Raphael has played a pivotal role on and off the pitch for the past decade. I took great pleasure in being his coach and I know that this is also the case for all of my staff. I wish him the best development and the best possible happiness.’
Varane’s retirement comes down to the ‘physical and psychological wear and tear’ he has suffered due a hectic playing schedule, as well as also wanting to spend more time with his family.
Varane made his senior debut for France in a victory over Georgia in March 2013 during a qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup.
Varane became only the fourth player to win the World Cup and Champions League in the same year Christian Karembu (1998), Roberto Carlos (2002) and Sami Khedira (2014).
He also helped France win the Nations League in 2021, where they beat Spain 2-1 in the final.
Varane missed 13 games with injury last season, but has only been absent from three match-day squads for United in the league so far this campaign.