Wales captain Ryan Giggs has announced his decision to retire from international football.
Giggs will end his Wales career after the Czech Republic game
The Manchester United winger, 33, will play for his country for the last time in Saturday's Euro 2008 qualifier against the Czech Republic in Cardiff.
"I feel this is a good time, the right time to retire and it's a difficult decision for me," said Giggs.
"I have loved playing for my country and I have loved captaining my country. It wasn't an easy decision."
Giggs admits that he is finding it hard to combine the physical demands of playing for both club and country.
"It definitely helps myself, I'll get those breaks in the season, and obviously it will help Manchester United because I'll be playing less football," added Giggs.
"But it will also help Wales - I don't feel that I've been performing as well as I could have.
"Whether it was the amount of football I was playing I don't know, but I think all three parties will benefit from this.
"Hopefully this will not only prolong my career but allow me to be fresher and allow me to enjoy the last two or three years."
It has been a privilege to have Ryan as my captain, he has always set a terrific example
Giggs has won more English league titles than any other player - nine in all - but his decision means he will never play at a major international tournament.
And it deprives Wales of one of the greatest players in their history.
"I've had such a successful time at club level but obviously that hasn't been the case in my international career because we haven't qualified," he said.
"That is something I've always wanted to do because you want to play against the best players, you want to play in the best tournaments whether it be the World Cup or European Championships.
"I'm disappointed not to have done that, but many players go through that and I've been fortunate to have had such a successful career so I'm not going to grumble."
The last time Wales took part in such an event was the Sweden World Cup of 1958.
Since then world-class players such as Ian Rush, Neville Southall, Mark Hughes, Dean Saunders, Kevin Ratcliffe and even Wales boss John Toshack himself have been forced to accept the limitations that Wales play under.
Giggs, who will end his career with 64 caps, has been pondering the decision since March's loss to the Republic of Ireland all but ended Wales's chances of making the Euro 2008 finals.
But he will try to finish his Wales career on a high note by beating the Czechs in Cardiff on Saturday.
"It will be emotional because it's my last game but it's not just about me on Saturday, it's an important game and one that we're hoping to win and hoping to put on a good performance," said Giggs.
Wales officials were made aware of Giggs' feelings last week when they assembled for the friendly against New Zealand in Wrexham, which finished in a 2-2 draw.
Manager Toshack, who is expected to make Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy his new captain after Saturday, wished Giggs well.
"Ryan came to see me and I could see he was a little bit disturbed. I had an idea what might be coming," said Toshack.
"I would like to say it has been a privilege to have him as my captain, he has always set a terrific example to all the young lads in the squad.
"We shall certainly miss him. I think we are talking about a very special person here, 16 years on the international scene under quite a bit of pressure when he plays for Wales - probably more than when he does for his club.
"I would like to wish him all the very best and say just how much he has helped me."
Toshack has always said that he is primarily aiming for a serious qualification bid for the next World Cup in South Africa.
Giggs will be approaching 36 by then, but Toshack would have ideally wanted the Manchester United player around for his immense experience and the quality of his leadership.
RYAN GIGGS FACTFILE
Wales caps: 64 (*incl Czech Rep match)
Wales goals: 12
Wales debut: Oct 1991 v Germany (Nuremberg)
Last Wales cap: June 2007 v Czech Republic (Cardiff)
Place of Birth: Cardiff
Date of birth: 29/11/1973
Height: 5ft 11in
Clubs: Manchester United
Giggs made his Wales debut against Germany in October 1991 at 17 years and 321 days old, and at the time he was the youngest-ever Wales international.
His Wales career was blighted by regular withdrawals in his younger days, with club boss Sir Alex Ferguson often citing the hamstring trouble that Giggs has suffered from.
It was not until Toshack's reign, which started three years ago, that Giggs even played in an away friendly for his country.
But when former boss Hughes quit to manage Blackburn soon after the heartbreak of losing a play-off to reach the last European Championships, Giggs was one of the few senior players who opted to stay on.
Giggs accepted the captain's armband and has aided Toshack's attempts to bring in a succession of new, young players.
"My highlights are my debut, coming on against Germany, and then starting against Belgium at Cardiff Arms Park, and also when John announced that I would be captain," Giggs said.
Giggs said he had not thought about his future after playing, and perhaps returning to the Wales team in a coaching capacity.
But there is little doubt that even having withdrawn from representing his country, Wales will still never be far from the thoughts of the proud Welshman.