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Karim Benzema retires from international football

Karim Benzema has announced his unexpected retirement from international football.

As the dust settles from Argentina’s triumph over France, the French wake up to more despair. The Real Madrid striker made the shocking announcement on the day of his 35th birthday, a day after the World Cup final. “I made the effort and the mistakes it took to be where I am today and I’m proud of it! I wrote my story and ours ends,” Benzema wrote. He ends his stint with the national team with 37 goals to his name in 97 matches.

Age was clearly not a restraint for Benzema as he recently concluded an exemplary 21/22 season with 49 goals and 16 assists in only 53 matches. That equates to 0.93 goals per 90’. It was that extravagant of a season that he was awarded the prestigious 2022 Ballon d’Or in October of this year.

No Fairytale Ending

Benzema’s impressive and consistent performances for Real Madrid meant that France’s coach Didier Deschamps could no longer look the other way. After a six year forced hiatus from the national team due to his involvement in an infamous sex scandal, Benzema was finally called up for Les Blues for Euros 2020. His return to the team saw him ramp up four goals in four matches and become the third highest goal scorer of the tournament. The French striker would additionally go on to put on match-changing performances in The Nations League. Early signs pointed at a redemption arc for Benzema.

Also Read: Who Won the Young Player Award in FIFA World Cup 2022

The World Cup Evades Benzema

Due to a left thigh injury picked up during training, Benzema withdrew from the World Cup before France’s opening game against Australia. He was never officially replaced in the squad, owing to France’s depth in attacking prowess. He would soon head back to Madrid to work himself back to fitness but was never called back to the team during the World Cup. The 2022 Qatar World Cup would have been Benzema’s first World Cup since 2014. He didn’t feature for Les Blues in their 2018 winning campaign.

Also Read: Who Won the Golden Gloves Award in FIFA World Cup 2022

Broken Relations

There was possible bad blood brewing between Benzema and coach Deschamps. Reports suggest that Benzema had made his decision to retire the very moment Deschamps decided to send him home due to injury. But he waited until the World Cup came to a close to make the bombshell of an announcement. Benzema wanted to stay in Qatar. He additionally made a quick recovery from the injury. Some say his injury was not even ‘serious’ and that he could have easily featured in later group stage matches or knockout matches for France.

Benzema declined President Macron’s invitation to attend the World Cup Final between France and Argentina. He simultaneously made cryptic and not-so cryptic posts, with one caption bluntly stating – “I don’t care.”

Benzema hasn’t publicly disclosed his reasons to retire from international football. It seems as if for now, all of his focus is on his beloved Real Madrid. He is set to feature in Los Blancos’ encounter with Real Valladolid on 30th December, 2022.

Also Read: FIFA World Cup: Countries with the Most Final Appearances without a win

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