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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2004, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Zidane quits France
Zinedine Zidane during Euro 2004
France midfielder Zinedine Zidane has announced his retirement from international football.

The 32-year-old had been pondering his future since France's Euro 2004 exit.

Zidane, who made his debut for France in 1994, was an integral part of the teams which won the 1998 World Cup and the European Championships in 2000.

"I have thought long and hard over this decision - I think that at a given moment you must say 'stop'," said Zidane's statement on his website.

He continued: "It's the end of my international career with the French team. It's the time, it's my time.

"It's the end of a cycle: there have been some great players who retired in 2000 and 2002, other players are doing it and now I'm doing it.

"I thought about it before Euro 2004. Independent of the result, I had anticipated quitting the French team.

ZIDANE FACTS
Born: 23 June 1972, Marseille
Clubs: Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus, Real Madrid
France career: Debut 17 August 1994
Won 93 caps and scored 26 goals
Won 1998 World Cup & Euro 2000
Personal honours: World player of the year 1998, 2000 and 2003
European player of the year 1998
Major club honours: Champions League (Real Madrid 2001)
European Super Cup (1996 Juventus, 2002 Real Madrid)
League title (Serie A with Juventus 1996/7, 1997/98, La Liga with Real Madrid 2002/03)
"It is of course much easier to do that when you're losing than when you're winning."

New France coach Raymond Domenech had been optimistic he could persuade Zidane to continue and guide France through to the 2006 World Cup in Germany but had to admit defeat.

"He will not play for France any more - I'm sorry about it as I would have liked him to carry on," said Domenech.

"He thought he had to leave the place to young players."

Zidane will go down as one of France's all-time greats, with his two headed goals helping the country to their first-ever World Cup victory on home soil in 1998.

And he played a major role as France confirmed their status with victory over Italy in the final of the European Championships in 2000.

But injury prevented him perform at his best in France's disastrous defence of the World Cup in 2002, and occasional flashes of brilliance could not help France progress beyond the quarter-finals at Euro 2004.

He follows veterans Marcel Desailly, Lilian Thuram and Bixente Lizarazu in quitting the international scene.




SEE ALSO
Lizarazu quits France
05 Aug 04  |  Internationals
Zidane defers France choice
04 Aug 04  |  Internationals
France appoint Domenech
12 Jul 04  |  Internationals


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