French defender Koscielny retires from international football

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Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny has announced his retirement from international football. The 33-year-old has accumulated 51 caps for France over his career, scoring one goal.

Koscielny’s career has been marred by injuries, and he cited those struggles as a big reason for his retirement.

“When you are in good form, you have lots of friends,” Koscielny said to French TV station Canal+. “When you are injured… after a certain period of time, you are forgotten about.”

Koscielny was a fixture in the French national team from 2012-2017, but after suffering an Achilles injury that saw him miss a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus that snapped a 22-match appearance streak, he lost his place in the squad in favor of younger defenders like Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti and Rafael Varane. That Achilles injury saw him eliminated from contention for the 2018 World Cup, and he has yet to make an appearance for Arsenal this season.

The Frenchman sounded more bitter than supportive about his country winning the World Cup this summer. “France’s World Cup victory did me a lot more psychological damage than my injury did me,” Koscielny said.

He also said he was disappointed in the lack of communication from the coaching staff, including head coach Didier Deschamps. “He called me once for my birthday in September,” Koscielny said. “Otherwise, no [there was no communication]. Lots of people disappointed me, not only the coach. It feels like a slap in the face.”

“I think that I have given everything I can for France,” Koscielny said. “I am 33, I have done 2 Euros, 1 World Cup. France has a great generation of great players now. My injury does not change my decision. For Les Bleus, it is finished.”