Karim Benzema has officially retired from international football, following the missing Qatar World Cup due to an injury picked up in the build-up to the competition.
The Real Madrid striker reportedly had a spat with France manager Didier Deschamps after being dropped from the squad, despite eventually recovering quickly enough to play in the final.
Benzema finishes with an outstanding international record, alongside the likes of Thierry Henry, Olivier Giroud and Michel Platini in terms of goal-scoring stats.
The 35-year-old rejected an invitation from France’s president Emannuel Macron to attend the World Cup final yesterday, showing how frustrated he was not to be involved in the match.
Deschamps had the option of recalling Benzema for the final but instead opted to stick with his 24-man squad who had performed admirably throughout the knockout stages.
On Instagram, Benzema publicly displayed his annoyance at the situation, posting simply: “I am not interested.”
In a press conference on Saturday, Deschamps refused to get involved with the controversy surrounding the forward.
He said: “There have been players injured and Karim was one of them. Since that time, I have had 24 players to look after.
Asking this question [about Benzema returning] is clumsy. I don’t deal with invitations for the final for injured players or former players. Some will be there, others not.”
The somewhat shocking news of Benzema’s retirement broke earlier today, confirmed by Fabrizio Romano on Twitter.
He said: “Official. Karim Benzema announces his retirement from international football.
“He leaves the French national team.”
Writing on Instagram on Monday afternoon, Benzema said: “I made the effort and mistakes it took to be where I am today and I’m proud of it! I wrote my story and ours ends.”
The question is, has this whole debacle convinced Benzema to retire early from the France national team? Or would the 35-year-old have parted ways with Les Blues regardless of the rift with Deschamps?
One would speculate that it was a big factor, even if the player has not confirmed so.
What is for certain is that the Ballon d’Or winner has been a remarkable player for his country. In 97 appearances throughout his career, Benzema has scored 37 goals, along with making 20 assists for France.
However, despite his excellent record, he has had some previous run-ins with Deschamps, too.
At Euro 2020, Benzema made his first appearance for France after a lengthy hiatus. Deschamps had left him out for five years prior to last year’s tournament.
In fact, only one other French player has had to wait longer between caps, when Roger Scotti went five years and 11 months after returning in October 1956.
While claims of a dispute between the pair at that time have been widespread, neither Benzema nor the France boss have ever made a public statement about the huge gap in appearances… for a player who was one of if not the best performing French forward at the time.
Nevertheless, Benzema concludes his international career as the fifth-highest goal-scorer in his nation’s history, an incredible statistic alongside his many other impressive achievements.
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