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It's Saliba's time, say French fans as Raphael Varane announces international retirement

French defender Raphael Varane, who was part of the 2018 World Cup-winning team, announced his retirement from international football on Thursday at the age of 29.

football It's Saliba's time, say French fans as Raphael Varane announces international retirement snt
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First Published Feb 2, 2023, 6:09 PM IST

French defender Raphael Varane, who was part of the 2018 World Cup-winning squad, announced his retirement from international football on Thursday at the age of 29. The Manchester United star made 93 appearances and has scored five goals for Les Bleus since making his senior debut in 2013.

Varane had a significant role on the France team that won the world championship five years ago and was prominent again as they advanced to the 2022 final two months ago. The Manchester United centre-back has suffered a string of injuries since he joined the club from Real Madrid in 2021.

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"Representing our great country for a decade has been one of the greatest honors of my life. Each time I wore this special blue jersey, I felt immense pride. The duty to give everything, to play with my heart and to win every time we enter the field. I have been thinking about it for several months and decided that it was the right time for me to retire from international football," wrote Varane in an Instagram post.

The French defender added, "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, one that made me really proud. We brought home the Cup!! I will never forget him. 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 management members and our staff during these years, and of my teammates who defended our jersey in each of our matches. But more importantly, this victory would not have been possible without the support of each of you along this path. Your enthusiasm, the celebrations and the memories of our return to France will remain etched in my mind forever. Even after the defeat in the final last year, with certainly a great run, you welcomed us as heroes when we returned. To each and every one of you, a thousand times, THANK YOU!" he stated.

"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 to take over, who deserve a chance and who need you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Rapha," the United star signed off.

Following the news of Varane, football enthusiasts took to Twitter to thank the French star, with some stating that it's time for Arsenal defender William Saliba to fill in his shoes for Les Bleus.

Also read: Zaire-Emery cherishes historic PSG goal celebration with Messi; fans credit G.O.A.T effect

Here's a look at how social media reacted to the announcement:

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