France’s Karim Benzema announces retirement from international soccer


France striker Karim Benzema posted a message on social media on Monday indicating his retirement from international football, a day after the national team lost the 2022 FIFA World Cup final without him.

After lifting the Ballon d’Or as the world’s best player to cap his remarkable rise, Benzema’s World Cup dream ended last month before the tournament began in Qatar as he tear a muscle in his left thigh during training with the blue ones.

[Benzema reportedly declined an invite to the World Cup final]

“I made the necessary effort and mistakes to be where I am today and I am proud of it! I have written my story and ours is ending,” Benzema wrote on his 35th birthday, in a post accompanied by a picture of him wearing a France shirt.

Benzema made his senior debut for France in 2007, aged 19. He won over 95 caps, including goals in three and appearing in four major tournaments, and ends his career as France’s fifth all-time leading goalscorer.

He has been named French Player of the Year four times, and was awarded the UEFA Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or for his performances in 2021 and ’22. Benzema became the fifth French player to win the Ballon d’Or and the second oldest winner of the award (34 years, 302 days).

The Real Madrid striker was France’s top scorer at the 2014 World Cup but did not play in the country’s victorious 2018 campaign. He experienced a lengthy ban from the national team from October 2015 until his retirement by French coach Didier Deschamps in May 2021.

With his relationship with Deschamps mended, Benzema scored freely for France with 10 goals in 16 games after his return to take his tally to 37, forming a formidable partnership with Kylian Mbappé.

His most impressive run of performances came in last season’s UEFA Champions League, when he led Madrid to the title, his fifth in Europe’s top competition, with 15 goals. He has moved up to second place on Madrid’s all-time scorers list with 329 goals. In total, Benzema has won 23 trophies with Real Madrid, including four La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey and five Champions League titles since joining in 2009.

At last year’s Euros, Benzema was brilliant and was France’s top scorer with four goals.

[France coach declines to comment on Benzema before World Cup final]

Olivier Giroud started for France in place of Benzema at the World Cup in Qatar and finished the tournament with four goals, but was substituted before half-time in Sunday’s final with Argentina leading 2-0.

France battled back to 2-2 after 90 minutes and 3-3 after extra time before Argentina won a penalty shoot-out to crown one of the most thrilling finals in World Cup history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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