Sergio Ramos announces international retirement after decorated Spain career

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Sergio Ramos has announced his retirement from international football after a hugely decorated Spain career, saying head coach Luis de la Fuente had left him no choice.

Ramos made his debut for La Roja in 2005, before going on to make 180 appearances for his national side to become Spain's most-capped player.

The centre-back played a vital role as Spain won three major tournaments in a row, lifting the European Championship trophy in 2008 and 2012 either side of becoming world champions in South Africa in 2010.

Ramos, who will turn 37 next month, last played for Spain in March 2021 and was not part of Luis Enrique's squad for Euro 2020 or the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where Spain were beaten on penalties by Morocco in the round of 16.

Luis Enrique was sacked after that exit, with his replacement De la Fuente saying this month that the door was not closed on Ramos potentially making a return to the team.

But the Paris Saint-Germain man, who has had significant problems with injuries over recent seasons, has decided to call it quits after the coach seemingly changed his stance.

Ramos expressed his disappointment and said he would rather have gone out on his own terms, rather than being told by De la Fuente that there was no route back into the squad.

The decision brings an end to a glittering international career where he made it to ninth on the nation's all-time goalscoring charts despite being a defender, having scored on 23 occasions.

In an Instagram post announcing his retirement on Thursday, Ramos said: "[It is] time for me to say goodbye to the Spain national team, to La Roja.

"This morning, I received a call from the current head coach who informed me that I am not and will not be part of his plans, regardless of how I perform or what I do in my career.

"With a heavy heart, it's the end of a road that I hoped would stretch out further and which would end with a better taste in my mouth, on a par with all the success we achieved with La Roja.

"I honestly believe that this journey deserved to end at my own choosing or because my performances were not at a level worthy of our national team, not due to a question of age or other reasons that, although I have not heard them directly, I have certainly felt.

"Because age in itself is not a virtue or a defect; it's just a number that is not necessarily related to performance or ability.

"I admire and envy players like [Luka] Modric, [Lionel] Messi and Pepe. They are the essence of tradition, values, meritocracy and justice in football.

"Unfortunately, it won't be like that for me because football isn't always fair and football is never just football.

"This is something I have to accept, albeit with this sadness I share with you but also with my head held high, and thankful for all these years and for your support.

"I come away with unforgettable memories, all the titles we've fought for and celebrated together and the tremendous pride I feel as the most capped Spanish international of all time. This badge, this shirt and these fans, all of you, have made me happy.

"I'll continue to support my country with the passion of someone lucky enough to proudly represent it 180 times. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who believed in me!"