Karim Benzema has announced that he has retired from international duty with France on his 35th birthday. The Real Madrid superstar and current Ballon d'Or holder revealed his decision on Monday less than 24 hours after Les Bleus were beaten by Argentina in the FIFA 2022 World Cup final on penalties.
Benzema was part of the French squad which finished second in Qatar yet he did not feature because of injury on the eve of the tournament. France boss Didier Deschamps' decision to not replace Benzema in his squad meant that the former Olympique Lyonnais man was considered part of the 2018 champions' group.
"I made the effort and mistakes it took to be where I am today and I am proud of that," wrote Benzema in a brief statement via Twitter. "I wrote my story and ours ends."
On his 35th birthday, Karim Benzema announces he is retiring from the French national team. pic.twitter.com/i2vqMXwQLc— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) December 19, 2022
Benzema snubbed the opportunity to be in Qatar to cheer his teammates on in Lusail and his relationship with Deschamps appeared to be strained given the tactician's evasive nature on the topic. Having returned to duty with Les Bleus in 2021 in time for UEFA Euro 2020, Benzema's comeback has ended after 18 months.
His association with the France team will remain tainted by his association with the attempted blackmail of former teammate Mathieu Valbuena which resulted in a five-year exile. Benzema's honors with the French team includes the 2021 UEFA Nations League success and this second placed finish at the World Cup in Qatar.
Considering his recent injury issues, this could also be a preventative measure in an effort to remain at the top for a while longer. Without Benzema, Kylian Mbappe shone and top scored with eight goals despite the final defeat to Lionel Messi's Argentina with both now candidates to succeed him as the next Ballon d'Or winner.
France return home this Monday with Deschamps expected to hold talks with the French Football Federation in the coming weeks regarding his future. There might also be some retirements with the likes of captain Hugo Lloris hinting after the final that he needs time to consider his decision.