Raphael Varane has announced his retirement from international football in an Instagram post on Thursday. The centre-back, who now plays for Manchester United after a successful spell at Real Madrid, wrote that “representing our magnificent country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life.”
The 29-year-old Frenchman added that “every time that I’ve worn this blue shirt, I’ve felt an immense loyalty.” Varane went on to say that he has been reflecting on his international retirement for “several months”, and that this is “the right moment” to make the announcement.
The defender spoke about how he “remembers having followed France 98 – this team, these players that made us live indescribable emotions. I dreamed of being like our heroes, and 20 years later, I lived one of the most beautiful experiences of my life… we brought the Cup home!”
He also thanked Didier Deschamps, stating that without his support, the 2018 World Cup win “would never have been possible.” He also extended his gratitude to “each member of the backroom staff” and his “teammates who have defended our shirt in every one of our games”.
Varane was also keen to thank the fans – adding that “even after the defeat in last year’s final… you welcomed us like heroes on our return. To each and every one of you, thank you a thousand times!”
The French central defender, who has 93 appearances for the French national team, ended his statement by saying that “I’m sure that I’ll miss these moments with you all, but the time has come for the new generation to take the reins. We have a group of young, talented players who are ready to take over, who deserve to have their chance and who need you.”
Varane played one season for Lens in Ligue 1, before moving to Real Madrid ahead of the 2011/12 season. In the Spanish capital, the Frenchman won three La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, four Champions Leagues, four Club World Cups, three Supercopa de España and three UEFA Super Cups. He also played an instrumental role in France’s World Cup victory in 2018, which saw him named in UEFA’s Team of the Year and FIFPRO’s World 11. Varane now plays for Manchester United, who are enjoying some fine form under Erik Ten Hag’s management.
Many expected Varane to take on the national team captaincy role, after the international retirement of Hugo Lloris who stepped down last month. Varane’s retirement has certainly come as a shock to millions across the world, though United fans will be grateful it allows the Frenchman to focus exclusively on his club career.