French star announces international retirement
Karim Benzema will no longer play for the national team
Sriker Karim Benzema has quit the French national team after their defeat to Argentina on penalties in the World Cup final on Sunday.
The Real Madrid forward was named as part of Didier Deschamps’ original 26-man squad for the tournament in Qatar but had to pull out due to a thigh injury just days before the FIFA showpiece kicked off.
There had been rumors that Benzema might return for France’s final against Argentina, but those claims proved to be inaccurate.
Considering his age and the fact that France won’t play another major competition until 2024, Benzema took to social media less than 24 hours after the defeat to call time on his France career on his 35th birthday.
“I made the effort and the mistakes it took to be where I am today and I’m proud of it. I have written my story and ours is ending,” he wrote to caption a picture of himself with a fist raised in France’s colors.
J’ai fait les efforts et les erreurs qu’il fallait pour être là où je suis aujourd’hui et j’en suis fier !
J’ai écrit mon histoire et la nôtre prend fin. #Nueve pic.twitter.com/7LYEzbpHEs
— Karim Benzema (@Benzema) December 19, 2022
Benzema leaves the French national team with 97 appearances which yielded 37 goals, making him his country’s fifth all-time top goalscorer.
He first represented France in the u16s and then progressed to the senior side as a 19-year-old by making his debut against Austria in March 2007.
After a flat performance at Euro 2008, he was snubbed by Raymond Domenech for the 2010 World Cup but chosen by Laurent Blanc for Euro 2012, where France were beaten in the quarterfinals by eventual winners Spain.
France exited at the same stage of the 2014 World Cup, in what proved to be Benzema’s last tournament appearance for some time.
Deschamps had picked him for the competition in Brazil, but the French Federation later banned Benzema for his alleged part in a sex tape blackmail plot involving former teammate Mathieu Valbuena, which he was found guilty of in November 2021.
The judge gave Benzema a one-year suspended sentence and fined him €75,000 ($80,000) for his role in the scandal.
Before that, Benzema had returned to the French fold for the first time in five years under Deschamps for a Euro 2020 campaign terminated by another penalty shootout loss to Switzerland in the last 16.
Benzema had hoped to have one last roll of the dice at the World Cup after being crowned the Ballon d’Or winner in October.
Now, however, Benzema will focus solely on Real Madrid, where he has enjoyed far more success with five Champions League titles.