Look to future, Rio Ferdinard tells England
RIO Ferdinand's call for England to build around a new generation of defenders following his international retirement has been echoed by manager Roy Hodgson.
The 34-year-old announced the end of his 81-cap England career yesterday morning, the day before Hodgson names a squad to face the Republic of Ireland and Brazil in friendlies this summer.
It was thought Ferdinand had a chance of being involved despite the furore that accompanied his withdrawal in March, when he was recalled for crucial World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro only to withdraw citing an "intricate and pre-planned training regime".
The Manchester United defender's decision to make himself unavailable takes away an element of uncertainty that has shrouded England's defence since Ferdinand was left out of Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad for "footballing reasons".
Having told Hodgson of his plans in a cordial telephone call yesterday, he has now formally passed the baton to younger men.
"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 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.
"A big thank you to all the fans, managers, coaching staff and players that I have worked alongside – the journey has been incredible."
Hodgson was full of praise for the way Ferdinand had conducted himself having resolved to retire and echoed his beliefs that the time was right to focus on other options at the heart of defence.
"I respect the decision and it was good of Rio to call me before I actually needed to select a squad," he said.
"I think his sentiments are admirable, fantastic. I agree with him; I think we do have a crop of interesting young players coming through and I think it's good he accepts maybe it's the right time for him to step aside."