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Rio Ferdinand, Former England Defender, Retires From International Football

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RIO FERDINAND
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Rio Ferdinand, a member of three England World Cup squads, has announced his retirement from international football.

The Manchester United defender's decision finally brings his deteriorating relationship with the national side to an end, after he opted against playing in the March World Cup qualifiers in San Marino and Montenegro.

Ferdinand said:

"After great deal of thought, I have decided to retire from international football. At the age of 34, I feel it is right for me to stand aside.

"I regard it as a great honour and a privilege to have represented my country at every level from U17s 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 "

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Ferdinand's last England appearance came against Switzerland at Wembley in June 2011

England coach Roy Hodgson added it was "important to pay tribute" to Ferdinand's achievements with the national team.

“To have captained his country, to play at three World Cups and indeed score in one of those, marks him out amongst a very special group of players," Hodgson said.

“I appreciated the call from Rio to inform me of his decision, which clearly he had spent much time considering before reaching this point."

Ferdinand made his England debut in a friendly win against Cameroon in October 1997 and although he did not play at the 1998 World Cup, he was England's outstanding player at the 2002 and 2006 finals.

The centre-back scored three goals for his country, with his first coming against Denmark in the 3-0 round-of-16 win at the Japan and South Korea finals 11 years ago.

Ferdinand, however, never played at a European Championship, having been overlooked in 2000 and 2012, while he missed Euro 2004 due to a ban for missing a drugs test.

The former England captain has not played for the Three Lions since the European Championship qualifier draw against Switzerland in June 2011.

His central defensive partner against the Swiss, John Terry, was alleged to have racially abused Ferdinand's brother Anton four months later during a Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea.

Although cleared in court last year, the Football Association later found Terry guilty and he received a four-match suspension and £220,000 fine.

Following his decision to pull out of the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, England fans aired derogatory songs about Ferdinand in the former fixture.

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The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) organisation reported England's fans to Fifa after allegations from journalists regarding chants with racial connotations.

The chant "Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put Rio on the top, put Anton in the middle, then burn the f*****g lot", is believed to have been highlighted by FARE as the most offensive.

The FA decided the “Rio Ferdinand, we know what you are” chants did not have a racist undertone and England captain Steven Gerrard, perhaps not aware of how vile the Ferdinand brothers chant was, commented that the national team's followers were "entitled to their opinion", having paid "good money".

Ferdinand, working as a pundit for Al-Jazeera for the San Marino game, was not asked for his reaction on the audible chants.

Ahead of Terry's July 2012 trial, Ferdinand was excluded from the Euro 2012 squad because of "footballing reasons", according to Hodgson, much to the defender's chagrin.

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