France hero Raphael Varane, 29, pens emotional farewell in shock retirement from international football

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Raphael Varane has made the surprise decision to retire from international football.

The Frenchman, 29, racked up 93 caps for his country and won the 2018 World Cup, playing every minute of their victorious run in Russia.

Reports suggest Manchester United defender Varane is keen to focus on his family life as well as allow more time for niggling injuries to heal.

In an emotional statement, he paid tribute to the French fans and called for the next generation to step up and take his place.

“I have been thinking about it for several months and have decided that it is the right time for me to retire from international football,” he wrote on Instagram.

“As a child, I remember following France 98, this team, these players who made us experience indescribable emotions. I dreamed of doing like our heroes and, 20 years later, I had one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

“We brought the World Cup home! I will never forget it. I still feel every single emotion I felt that day, July 15, 2018. It was one of the greatest and most memorable moments of my life.

“This victory that we won together would never have been possible without the support of Didier Deschamps, of each of the members of staff over these years, of my teammates who defended our shirt.

“But more importantly, this victory would not have been possible without the support of each of you along this journey.

“I will miss these moments with you for sure, but the time has come for the new generation to take over. We have a group of talented young players who are ready, who deserve a chance and who need you.”