By CARL SETTERLUND
England national team legend Frank Lampard has today announced his official retirement from international soccer, finishing tied with Sir Bobby Charlton for sixth-most caps at 106.
Lampard, 36, follows the lead of fellow former England captain Steven Gerrard, who announced his international retirement in July. The New York City FC Designated Player’s decision comes ahead of the start of England’s qualifiers for the 2016 UEFA European Championship.
“It has been a very tough decision for me to make, which is why I have given it so much thought since the World Cup,” Lampard said in a statement.
Renowned for his long career at Chelsea, he was also a mainstay on the England national team for the past decade.
Lampard’s international legacy will be marked by the recurrent question of whether he and Gerrard could coexist in the same midfield, but he was notably a key member of England’s quarterfinalist squads in the 2004 European Championships and the 2006 World Cup.
The move will allow Lampard to focus on his club career. He’s currently on loan at Manchester City ahead of New York City FC’s MLS debut in 2015 when he’ll usher in the expansion franchise along with fellow veteran David Villa.
“Due to my club career now going in a different direction, it is of utmost importance for me to consider my family first,” Lampard said. “Also, to concentrate on how I can perform consistently to the best of my abilities over my next few years in club football.”
Lampard captained England in his final international game this past June, a World Cup group stage draw versus Costa Rica. England crashed out of the tournament without getting out of its group.
His retirement means England manager Roy Hodgson will have to pick a new captain ahead of the squad’s upcoming Euro qualifiers.
What’s your reaction to Frank Lampard’s international retirement? What highlights (or lowlights) of his will you remember most? Who should England name as its new captain?
Share your thoughts below.