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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March, 2005, 12:18 GMT
Savage announces Wales retirement
Robbie Savage has called time on his Wales career
Robbie Savage has retired from international football with Wales.

The 30-year-old midfielder said he had decided to concentrate on his club football at Ewood Park and devote more time to his family.

"I feel the time is right, I want to spend more time with my young family and concentrate fully on my career with Blackburn Rovers," Savage said

Wales boss John Toshack is thought to have spoken to Savage, who has 39 caps, about his future over the weekend.

For a Premiership player to retire from international duty is too much
Ex-Wales midfielder Matthew Jones
Savage is on record as being against the appointment of Toshack following the departure of Mark Hughes to Rovers, who then signed Savage from Birmingham.

However, relations between Savage and Toshack were believed to have thawed following the former Real Madrid manager's appointment.

But Savage's parting statement, issued on the Blackburn Rovers website, praised Hughes and his team while making no mention of Toshack.

"I was fortunate to be part of one of the most successful Welsh teams ever, and to work with a management team of Mark Hughes, Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki, for whom I have the highest regard and respect," Savage said.

Former Liverpool boss Roy Evans, now a member of Toshack's coaching staff, said he was surprised by the announcement.

"We've only had the one game when I've been down there and there was no animosity between the two," Evans said.

"He got on well with the rest of the squad and it's quite a surprise he's decided to give up his international career.

"It's always great to have characters, but life goes on in football."

Former Wales boss Bobby Gould, who famously made Savage apologise to Italy's Paolo Maldini for throwing a shirt at him in jest, suggested that Toshack's former media work may have contributed to Savage's early retirement.

"Perhaps he (Savage) took stock of comments by John Toshack on television and perhaps there is not a working relationship," Gould said.

"But we don't know that. I haven't spoken to Robbie or John Toshack.

"John Toshack will just think it is an opportunity for somebody else to stake his claim."

With several of the 'old guard' having retired, including former skipper Gary Speed, Mark Pembridge, Andy Johnson, Andy Melville, Nathan Blake and last week Mark Crossley, Savage has now joined the exodus.

Savage made his Wales debut in 1995 against Albania and established himself as a firm favourite with the fans for his whole-hearted approach.

The Wrexham-born midfielder began his career as a trainee with Manchester United, playing in the same youth side as the likes of Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

But he began his professional career with Crewe in 1994 after being released from Old Trafford.

International recognition soon followed, then a move to Leicester in 1997 before relegation prompted a switch to midlands rivals Birmingham in 2002.

The love affair at St Andrews ended abruptly in January, when Savage made a contentious 3m transfer to Blackburn to play under his former Wales manager Hughes.

Toshack has already begun a rebuilding process, with qualification hopes for the 2006 World Cup in Germany realistically extinguished.

Sunderland's Carl Robinson and West Ham's Carl Fletcher formed an effective midfield axis during the 2-0 friendly victory over Hungary last month, impressing during Savage's injury-enforced absence.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Former Wales player Robbie Savage


Interview: Wales boss John Toshack


Interview: Blackburn assitant manager Mark Bowen



SEE ALSO
Toshack lifts lid on Savage exit
14 Mar 05 |  Internationals
Savage thanks for Toshack kindess
28 Jan 05 |  Internationals
Savage told to 'shut up'
15 Oct 04 |  Internationals
Savage warns off Toshack
30 Sep 04 |  Welsh
Savage seals switch to Blackburn
19 Jan 05 |  Blackburn Rovers
Price wins senior Wales call-up
14 Mar 05 |  Internationals



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