France captain Hugo Lloris has announced his retirement from international football at the age of 36, three weeks after his country lost the World Cup final on penalties to Argentina in Doha.
“I have decided to stop my international career, with the feeling that I have given everything,” Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Lloris said in an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe published on Monday.
“I think it is important to announce this now, two and a half months before the start of Euro qualifying.”
Lloris, who made his international debut as a 21-year-old in a friendly against Uruguay in November 2008, bows out after becoming France’s most-capped player during the World Cup.
He overtook previous record-holder Lilian Thuram’s mark of 142 appearances and finished with his 145th cap in the final, which France lost 4-2 on penalties after an epic 3-3 draw at the end of extra time.
“I have really been thinking about it since the end of the World Cup, but there has been something deep inside of me for maybe six months now and which grew during the competition, leading me to make this decision,” Lloris said.
Former Nice and Lyon goalkeeper Lloris captained France to victory at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
He played at seven major tournaments in total, including Euro 2016, when France lost in the final to Portugal as hosts.
France’s back-up goalkeepers at the World Cup were 37-year-old Rennes veteran Steve Mandanda and Alphonse Areola of West Ham United.
However, the replacement for Lloris as France’s starter is set to be the 27-year-old Mike Maignan of AC Milan, who missed the World Cup due to injury.
– ‘Go out at the top’ –
“There comes a time when you need to step aside. I have always said the French national team does not belong to any one person,” Lloris said.
“There is a goalkeeper who is ready (Maignan), and I need a bit more time for me, for my family and for my children.
“To have been the France goalkeeper for 14 and a half seasons is a big deal, but it is also mentally exhausting and I hope clearing some time for myself will allow me to keep playing at the highest level for a few more years.”
He added: “I prefer to go out at the top, having helped France get to a World Cup final.”
Lloris’ decision comes after coach Didier Deschamps — in charge since 2012 — signed a new contract to remain in the position through to the 2026 World Cup in North America.
“I must, we must, respect his decision even if he still had his place in our team, as he demonstrated during the last World Cup,” Deschamps said in a statement.
“A great servant of the France team is bowing out and I want to pay tribute to his exceptional career.
“Beyond all the records that his talent and professionalism enabled him to break, beyond the essential role that he played in our greatest victories … Hugo is a remarkable person on a human level.”
The next assignment for Deschamps and France is the qualifying campaign for Euro 2024 in Germany, which begins at the end of March with a double-header against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.
They will also play Greece and Gibraltar in Group B, with the top two teams advancing to the finals which will take place from June 14 to July 14 next year.