8 August 2014 16:02
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has announced his decision to retire from international duty with the Ivory Coast.
The 36-year-old, regarded as one of his country’s finest talents, scored 63 goals – a national record – in 104 appearances, the last of which came against Greece in the World Cup.
Drogba made his international debut versus South Africa in September 2002 and went on to feature in three World Cups.
He also helped his the Ivory Coast reach the Africa Cup of Nations on two occasions, but suffered defeats in the final to Egypt in 2006 and Zambia in 2012.
“It is with much sadness that I have decided to retire from international football,” Drogba wrote in a statement posted on his official Twitter account.
“These past 12 years in the national team have been full of emotions. From my first call-up to my last match, I have always tried to give my best for my country.
“I am very proud to have been part of this team for eight years and to have contributed to placing my country on the world stage of football, taking part in three World Cups and two Africa Cup of Nations finals.
“I cannot convey enough thanks to the fans for all the love and support during these years. All my goals, all my caps, all our victories are for you – I love you.
“I also owe much gratitude to my team-mates – the players with whom I have shared all these emotions and I wish you all much success for the future and a very warm welcome to the new manager.”
There appeared a sense of inevitability about Drogba’s decision as he started just once for the Ivory Coast in three Group C matches at the World Cup in Brazil, as the African nation were eliminated at the pool stage after winning just one match.
Drogba secured a return to Chelsea on a one-year deal last month after originally enjoying an eight-year stint at Stamford Bridge between 2004 and 2012.
During his original spell he won the Premier League on three occasions as well as four FA Cups, two League Cups and the UEFA Champions League.