‘I’m suffocating… the player is gobbling up the man’: Man United’s Raphael Varane opens up on his struggles and WHY he’s quitting France duty at 29, despite being next in line to be his country’s captain
- Raphael Varane announced his retirement from international football this week
- He has admitted that consistently playing at the highest level has taken its toll
Raphael Varane has revealed that he decided to retire from international football due to struggling to cope with football’s ‘overloaded schedule’.
Varane called time on his international career on Thursday, despite seemingly being at his peak and still two months shy of his 30th birthday.
But the Manchester United defender has opened up on how having to consistently play at the highest level has taken its toll on him and led to him taking the difficult decision to stop playing for France.
‘I gave everything, physically and mentally. But the very highest level is like a washing machine, you play all the time and you never stop,’ Varane said in an interview with Canal+ that is due to be released in full on Sunday.
‘We have overloaded schedules and play non-stop. Right now, I feel like I’m suffocating and that [Varane] the player is gobbling up [Varane] the man.’
Raphael Varane announced his retirement from international football on Thursday
Varane won the World Cup in 2018, but has admitted that playing ‘non-stop’ has taken its toll on him
Varane’s announcement was even more of a shock considering he appeared to be in pole position to be France’s next captain after Hugo Lloris confirmed his international retirement last month.
Varane picked up 93 caps for his country after making his debut in 2013, and was a mainstay at the heart of the defence for a decade.
He played every minute at the 2018 World Cup as Les Bleus lifted the trophy for the second time in their history, and he played a key role in France’s run to the final in Qatar last year.
The 29-year-old also won the Nations League with his country in 2021, as France came from behind to beat Spain 2-1 in the final.
He did not manage to win the European Championships, as France came up short in the 2016 final, and there may have been the temptation to continue playing until next year’s tournament.
But he has opted to walk away from international football after admitting that it was having an effect on his mental wellbeing.
Varane’s retirement came as a shock to many, but was fully accepted by France manager Didier Deschamps, who thanked the centre-back for his ‘unwavering commitment to the blue jersey’.
Varane’s shock decision was accepted by France boss Didier Deschamps, who paid an emotional tribute to the defender
Varane will continue to play for Man United, but will no longer represent France
But former France star Jerome Rothen has hit out at Varane, claiming he has made a ‘stupid’ decision to stop representing his country at such a young age.
Rothen has speculated that Varane’s retirement could be a result of a poor atmosphere in the France dressing room, despite the team coming agonisingly close to retaining the World Cup at the end of 2022.
Varane is the third high-profile French player to retire from international duty in a matter of weeks, following in the footsteps of Lloris and Karim Benzema, who controversially missed out on the World Cup.
Benzema was sent home on the eve of the tournament due to a fitness issue, and did not return to Qatar, despite his agent claiming that he was available for the knockout stages.
Varane has followed in the footsteps of Karim Benzema and Hugo Lloris by retiring from international football
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