Raphael Varane has retired from international duty with France aged 29. He won 93 caps.
Varane was part of the side that swept to the World Cup trophy at Russia 2018, then came within a penalty shootout of repeating the feat at Qatar 2022.
His final act in a France shirt came during the World Cup final against Argentina in December, collapsing onto all fours after a lung-busting run to prevent an attack in extra time. He was immediately substituted by manager Didier Deschamps, having been one of a number of players in the France camp to pick up a virus.
“Representing our great country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life,” Varane wrote in a farewell letter on Instagram.
“Every time I wore this special blue jersey, I felt immense pride. The duty to give everything, to play with my heart and to win every time we stepped on the field. I’ve been thinking about this for several months and decided it was the right time for me to retire internationally.
“The time has come for the new generation to pick up the slack. We have a group of talented young players who are ready to take over, who deserve to have a chance and who need you.”
Varane, who was thought to be next in line for the France captaincy after Hugo Lloris retired in January, will now focus on his club duties at Manchester United.
After Varane went public with his announcement, France boss Deschamps paid tribute to his centre-back: “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.
“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.”