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Five players who hung up their international boots too early

Monday 27th June 2016
After Argentina's shootout defeat to Chile in the Copa America final the football world shook to the news that Lionel Messi will retire from international football. A huge shock at just 29 years of age, but the 5-time Ballon d'Or winner isn't the only man to quit international football far too soon. Let's take a look.

Philipp Lahm

After lifting the World Cup as captain in 2014 German sensation Philipp Lahm decided that would be the last time he put on the famous white shirt. Lahm's evolution as a footballer over time has been remarkable, after being classed as one of the best full backs around he channelled his natural ability into operating in a defensive midfield role at the highest of levels for his club Bayern Munich. You can forgive him for calling time on his international career after a World Cup win as captain, after all, what more is there to achieve? But at just 30 years of age at the time Lahm could have still offered so much to Germany in their quest for further honours.

Paul Scholes

Possibly one of the most well documented of early retirements. In 2004 at the age of just 29 Paul Scholes decided to call it a day for England to concentrate on club fitness and time with his family. This act seemed to have several other reasons underneath those Scholes relayed, mainly his misuse within the team. Despite being regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation, the Manchester United legend was often deployed on the left wing by Sven Goran Eriksson, a decision very few fans agree with both then and now. There were multiple attempts to persuade him to return as he played for another 9 years at club level, but sadly none were successful.

Francesco Totti

One of the greatest names in Football, Roma legend Francesco Totti. The attacker departed the Italy set up after the side lifted the World Cup in 2006, a fitting way to bow out yes, but Totti was only 29. He is of course still playing now and looks set to carry on into his 40's after signing a new one year contract with his boyhood club. To have ten brilliant years at the top level after international retirement proves that it all came too soon. This can be highlighted even more when you look at how old some of Italy's key players have been in the past, the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and the great Dino Zoff. Totti certainly had so much more to offer his national side, although his club career may well have already ended had he decided to carry on.

John Terry

Out of the players in the list John Terry's is the only one who retired under very different circumstances. He didn't feel he was too old, and the national team itself didn't cease to call him up. It was of course the controversy with his alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand. Now officially the incident with Anton Ferdinand is not the reason for his international exile, but the entire ordeal has no doubt aided to the reasoning of his retirement. Since calling time in 2012 most England fans have called for him to be recalled, due to the Chelsea skipper continuing to be one of the best defenders in the Premier League and England's sheer lack of Quality in central defence. However even if Both Hodgson and Terry wanted the recall, it would appear The FA would have never allowed such an event to take place.

There are a number of players who deserve a very special mention. Zinedine Zidane being one of them. However as his famous last game for France in the World Cup final was also his last game ever in football, he was of course completely unavailable. Another acknowledgement goes to Zidane's fellow Frenchman Eric Cantona. The simple reason his name did not make the list is because he retired from all football far too early not just the international stage. Messi has certainly added his famous name to the list after his shock announcement, whether he sticks to his international exile, however, only time will tell.
Ryan Stewart

23 years old, Sport Journalism graduate living in Salford. Work in web content in Media city and always looking to break in to sports writing. Manchester United season ticket holder.


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