"We don't have the squad list made, not even a small percentage of it," Scaloni said. I don't think this is the time to call Lionel [Messi]. Once we have to name the squad, we will see what we do. I honestly know him [Messi] well and I'm not worried about having to talk to him. We want to treat him in a way that he truly knows that there is a respect there and that we are most certainly going to treat him as he deserves. That is the most important thing of all."
Given such a statement, it doesn’t appear as though Messi is quite done internationally just yet. Given Cristiano Ronaldo’s medical exam with Juventus the player doesn’t seem like he’s going anywhere either. Both are expected to return for their respective nations despite such poor endings at the recent World Cup.
However, the international scene lost a lot of players following the recent World Cup. We’ll take a look at some notable names that called it a career. Some decided it was time to hang it up due to age while a variety of players retired due to ongoing frustrations. Along with recently retired players we’ll take a look at lesser known names you might have forget also called it a career on their international play.
Enjoy the article folks and like always be sure to share it with a friend. Without further ado these are 20 players you won’t see suiting up for their national team side in the near future. Let’s get started!
20 Arjen Robben - Netherlands
It seems surreal but both Bayern stars Robben and Ribery are now done with their national team sides. The great Robben called it a career on international play following Holland’s failure to qualify for the World Cup. He tells Telegraph that the only thing he wants to focus on these days is his club play:
"I'm 33 years old now. I'm playing at a top club in Europe and I want to concentrate on it now. It's also a good time to hand over the baton. I still feel very good and want to be at the top as long as possible. I am very proud and honoured at my six tournaments.”
19 Sandro Wagner - Germany
Even before Ozil grabbed all the headlines it was striker Sandro Wagner who made quite the statement following his World Cup snub:
"I hereby retire from the national team with immediate effect," he told Bild. "It's clear that my way of always being open, honest and direct means that I don't fit in with the coaching team."
It was one of the many peculiar decisions along with Leroy Sane not making the international squad either. Needing goals, Wagner not being selected is a head scratcher. Sadly it appears as though his international days are done with.
18 James Milner - England
Poor James Milner didn’t start off his recent campaign on the best of notes. He suffered a terrible gash to the head and one that required 10 stitches. Yikes.
At the very least he won’t have to stress out about international play any longer. For those that didn’t know, Milner wasn’t a part of England’s national team due to his retirement announced back in 2016. At the age of 32 his only focus is on club soccer these days. England’s national team overcame expectations at the recent World Cup – his absence really isn’t all that missed.
17 Gerard Pique - Spain
Following an embarrassing World Cup exit the great Barcelona defender announced his retirement from international play – he intended on doing so even before the start of the tournament:
“Yes, I will leave the national team after the World Cup. I’ve already said it a lot of times. I am very proud of playing for Spain when I have the chance, but because of motivation, or because you like to focus on other things, there is some stage of your life when you need to end it in the best way.”
Leaving Europe might be next on the bucket list. The player plans on closing out his career as a member of the MLS.
16 Radja Nainggolan - Belgium
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez didn’t hesitate when assessing why the midfielder wasn’t chosen for the team. The manager claims the player is what he used to be. Ouch. It was a surprising snub and one that caused Radja to retire from international play shortly after. He took to social media discussing his decision:
"Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end," Nainggolan wrote on his Instagram account. "Being yourself can be bothering."
Given some of the lackluster performances at the midfield position perhaps the team could have used the edgy tackler. Nonetheless he’ll focus on his club play as an important part of Serie A’s top tier team Inter Milan.
15 Keisuke Honda - Japan
"I am concluding my career in the national team," the former AC Milan man said. "I am happy, because we have a lot of good young players, and now it is their turn to write the history of football in Japan."
One of the true greats for his country, Honda definitely has a point as Japan is on the upswing. His national team almost eliminated favorites Belgium. The team blew a two goal lead in what was a painful defeat. Nonetheless the future is bright with or without Honda. Look for the player to take up a managerial role with his country once his club career comes to an end.
14 Mario Gomez - Germany
Although he hadn’t officially announced it, many knew it was Gomez last appearance for Germany at the heart of the attack. He took to social media just days ago making the announcement official:
"Now it is time to make way and give the many young and highly talented lads the opportunity to fulfil their dream."
This is an admirable decision given Germany’s recent World Cup performance. It is time to turn the page and build with the youth at their disposal. As for Gomez he continues on this season with Stuttgart in Germany.
13 Andrea Barzagli - Italy
Following a terrible disappointment against Sweden, several legends from Italy announced their national team departures. Now Andrea’s partner Chiellini was said to be among those names, however, according to recent news, he’s considering a return.
At the age of 37, Barzagli isn’t, and that’s the right call. Italy has lots of great youth that can lead the team into the future. Andrea has different goals these days, most notably finally leading Juventus to a Champions League title. With Ronaldo on the team this can be the perfect send off for the veteran defender.
12 Kevin-Prince Boateng - Germany
Boateng hasn’t had the easiest international career. Way back in 2011, the former AC Milan star announced his retirement due to not being able to keep up with the schedule. He went back on this decision during the 2014 World Cup. However again things soured as KPB was sent home as a disciplinary measure. The player quit the team ending his national team run for good.
At 31, Boateng recently returned to Italy. He isn’t playing for Milan again. Instead the player signed a deal with Sassuolo.
11 Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Sweden
It was odd to see Ibra at the World Cup without rocking the Sweden national team colors. Zlatan had previously retired from the squad. However following a qualification rumors began to surface about Ibra potentially rejoining the team. It was not to be as Ibrahomvic decided against a return – instead he wanted the new guard to lead the club. Sweden definitely overachieved getting out of the group stage, a strong run few expected.
As for Ibra he’s enjoying the twilight of his career as a member of the LA Galaxy. It remains to be seen if he’ll end his club football over in the US or if he’ll return to Europe for one last run.
10 Wesley Sneijder - Netherlands
Months after Robben’s retirement another legend decided to call it a career. The most capped player in Holland history Wesley Sneijder officially retired from national team duty. The player was hesitant when it came to his international future however he decided it was best for the country to focus on the youth and new wave for the national squad.
Age 34 the talented midfielder is playing away from the spotlight these days as a member of Al-Gharafa of the Qatar Stars League. He might decide to hang up the cleats for good sooner rather than later.
9 Daniele De Rossi - Italy
One of Italy’s best defensive midfielders ever, De Rossi announced his retirement from intentional play following Italy's qualifying defeat to Sweden. Overcome with emotions De Rossi discussed the highs and lows playing for his national team side:
“These are the paths we take in life and our careers. From the youth sector as a 16-year-old arriving at Coverciano to the senior national team, I have worn these colours around the world. To think that this is the last time I will pull on this shirt is as painful for me as it is for any player who has to stop. But this is where my adventure [with Italy] ends. I could not be more proud of the teammates I have played with, the young guys and the older ones. Italy needs to work very hard on the youth setup and then I am sure it will be back at the highest level, because the talent is there.”
8 Javier Mascherano - Argentina
"Personally, for me now it's over. From now on I'm just one more Argentina fan."
This is what Mascherano told BBC following Argentina’s brutal World Cup exit against France. Defensively the team wasn’t up for it and a lot of that had to do with Javier and his slower pace these days.
The player isn’t what he used to be – in terms of club team he’s no longer playing for Barcelona either electing to continue his football in China. At the age of 34 it is quite evident that his career is coming to an end. Like some of the others on this list it would surprise very few if he transitions into a manager.
7 Tim Cahill - Australia
Australia’s leading goal scorer decided to call it a career at the international level following the team’s early exit. Never known as the most talented, Cahill always had immeasurable heart representing his country:
“Every single cap has been an honour. I am incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to represent my country.”
He only appeared once during the World Cup coming on as a substitute during 2-0 loss against Peru. This is another player that can transition into a manager’s gig for his country at some point. For now it is unknown as to whether or not he’ll prolong his career club wise.
6 Andres Iniesta - Spain
"This was my last game for Spain. A marvellous spell is over. Sometimes, the end is not as you dreamed it.”
These are the emotional words from the legendary footballer Andres Iniesta. He led the Spain dynasty for years. The recent World Cup was his final tournament. Despite all the brilliance things ended on a sour note with Iniesta and Spain getting ousted by underdog hosts Russia. Making matters worse the brilliant veteran started the game off on the bench, a controversial decision to say the least.
He’s out of Barcelona and suiting up for Japan's Vissel Kobe. In all likelihood he’ll close his career out with the club.
5 Gigi Buffon - Italy
The saddest part of Italy not qualifying for the World Cup was the thought of Gigi Buffon’s international career coming to an end. Back in 2006 Buffon reached the climax of his international career bringing Italy a World Cup Title. Those days are now done as the 40 year old is giving the new guard a try at resurrecting the team’s prior success.
At this point his biggest focus is elsewhere. Buffon is desperately seeking a Champions League trophy. Although it is a blow that he left Juventus and Ronaldo would later join, he isn’t losing too much sleep on his new PSG squad led by the likes of Neymar and Mbappe. Here’s to hoping Buffon gets the Champions League hardware in what is likely to be his final campaign.
4 Lucas Biglia - Argentina
The midfielder is another player to call it a career most recently. Along with Mascherano, Biglia also commented following Argentina’s loss to France. Lucas told Fox Sports he is done with the international aspect of his career:
"This is football. We leave with great sadness, because it is the end of the road for some of us. I hope that those who follow can work with less pressure and take Argentina to where it deserves to be. It’s time for me to step aside, to be honest with myself, to say there is a new generation rich with talent and it is time for them to take over."
A back injury derailed a lot of his momentum late last season. He’s hoping for a fresh new start heading into the Serie A campaign as a member of AC Milan.
3 Sardar Azmoun - Iran
This is something you don’t see every day, a 23 year old striker deciding to call it a career at the international scene. Sardar Azmoun opened up to Sports Illustrated listing bullying as a major reason for his international departure. The player was also receiving lots of heat online for his play.
Ultimately Azmoun claims he chose his mother instead of the national team as she was battling with some difficulties. Teammate Reza Ghoochannejhad also decided to withdraw from the Iran national team:
“My mind, my personality and my pride do not allow me to wear the Iran national team shirt again.”
2 Rafael Marquez - Mexico
This one wasn’t the biggest surprise as Mexico's captain Rafael Marquez decided to call it a career. He leaves behind a legacy as one of the greatest defenders from Mexico of all-time:
“For now I think I will enjoy some free time. These have been 22 years of uninterrupted career and my future will surely be working in football,” said Marquez, speaking to FFT.”
A captain at five World Cups, Marquez wore the captain armband in his final game against Brazil. It was a tough exit to Brazil in the round of 16. However he has nothing to be ashamed about given his storied history with the international team.
1 Mesut Ozil - Germany
“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect. I used to wear the Germany shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
Ozil concluded the statement claiming he’s only celebrated by the country when things are going well. It's a shocking retirement but one that has been very well received. Lots of his teammates including veteran keeper Manuel Neuer and previously mentioned Mario Gomez have shown their support in his statement.
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