Thuram bids adieu to international matches

28th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 27 (AFP) - France defender Lilian Thuram has decided to end his international career after 103 caps at the age of 32.

PARIS, July 27 (AFP) - France defender Lilian Thuram has decided to end his international career after 103 caps at the age of 32.

The Juventus player, who plays right-back for his country but often central defender at club level, won the World Cup in 1998 and European Championship in 2000.

He said the quarter-final defeat to eventual winners Greece in Euro 2004 was not the cause for his decision.

The Guadeloupe-born player said he first wanted to retire after France's disastrous World Cup in 2002 when they became the first defending champions to fail to score a goal.

But Jacques Santini, who took over as coach following that tournament, persuaded him to carry on.

France have named former Under 21 coach Raymond Domenech to coach the side to the 2006 World Cup.

"A new World Cup is looming and new players might be more competitive than me. The Thuram cycle has come to an end," he told l'Equipe sports daily.

"There's no point in playing for a few more caps. I don't intend to try to catch up with Marcel Desailly."

Desailly set a France record of 116 caps before retiring in June.

Domenech said he had hoped Thuram would have stayed on the international scene to stabilise a young defence.

"I am very disappointed, both for the French team and for the plans and ambitions I had for the team, plans which included Thuram.

"However I respect his decision and want him to know that the door remains open to the national team if he changes his mind."

Thuram scored only two goals in his international career but they could not have been more important - both came against Croatia in the 1998 World Cup quarter-finals.

He has played for Monaco, Parma and Juventus.

L'Equipe said Real Madrid play-maker Zinedine Zidane (32), Marseille goalkeeper Fabien Barthez (32) and left-back Bixente Lizarazu (34) might follow Thuram into international retirement.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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