A day after France lost against Argentina in the FIFA World Cup 2022 final in Qatar, striker Karim Benzema announced his retirement from international football on his 35th birthday on Monday, 19 December.
Real Madrid star Benzema, the current Ballon d'Or winner who has scored 37 times in 97 appearances for France, missed out on playing in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after suffering a thigh injury during training a day before the start of the tournament.
"I made the effort and the mistakes it took to be where I am today and I'm proud of it! I have written my story and ours is ending," Benzema wrote in a tweet, signalling the end of his international career.
Already 35 now, Benzema was, in any case, unlikely to be in contention for a spot in the France team for the 2026 World Cup in North America in four years' time. Hence, many believe it was logical for him to announce his retirement from international football and focus on playing for his club.
But Benzema has not been considered for national duty for many years because of his alleged involvement in a case to blackmail a former teammate through incriminating videos taken from his mobile. He has recently returned to the national fold and has been in prolific form for Real Madrid in the last couple of years and was expected to lead his nation's campaign in Qatar but the injury prevented him from doing so.
Unceremonious End to a Hot and Cold International Career
Benzema made his international debut in 2007 and has played at the European Championship in 2008 and 2012 as well as the 2014 World Cup. He was omitted from the next two major tournament squads over the blackmail scandal.
He was recalled for Euro 2020 last year, but could not do much as Didier Deschamps' side suffered an early exit. He did help France win the Nations League in October 2021 and was expected to do well in Qatar.