Benzema confirms international retirement after France’s World Cup heartbreak
Karim Benzema has retired from international football after sitting out France’s run to the World Cup final due to injury.
The Real Madrid striker, who won the Ballon d’Or in October, announced the decision to end his career with Les Bleus on his 35th birthday.
He wrote on Twitter: “I made the efforts 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.”
Benzema was ruled out of the Qatar 2022 finals on the eve of the tournament after suffering a thigh injury in a France training session.
He scored 37 goals in 97 games for France, making his debut against Austria in March 2007, but Benzema’s international career was marked by a long period of absence.
The former Lyon frontman notably missed the World Cup triumph at Russia 2018 while out of favour amid what was then an ongoing blackmail investigation.
This time around he was hoping to play a big part in the trophy defence, but Benzema had been troubled by a niggle in the lead-up to the tournament, which did not bode well.
He was battling to prove his fitness but suffered an apparent injury recurrence during his first full training session with Didier Deschamps’ squad.
Benzema underwent an MRI at a Doha hospital and it was decided he faced three weeks of recovery, leading to him leaving the France squad and not returning.
Deschamps said at the time: “I’m extremely sorry for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective.”
Benzema’s announcement came as France headed home from Qatar, one day on from losing a stunning final to Argentina, going down 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw.
Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud proved a prolific front pairing, meaning Benzema’s absence was barely a factor for a France side who went agonisingly close to becoming the first team since Brazil 60 years ago to win back-to-back World Cup titles.
Two days ahead of the final, amid speculation he might return to the France camp, Benzema posted a cryptic message on Instagram that read: “That doesn’t interest me.”
He has returned to training with Madrid ahead of the resumption of their season, and may have been fit to play a part in the final, having not been formally removed from France’s squad list.
Asked if Benzema could make a shock return for the final, however, Deschamps said: “I don’t want to answer you. It’s a stupid question.”
Now there will be no return in the future either, Benzema signing off from France duty three short of a century of international caps.