IRELAND AND STEPHEN KENNY HAVE received a welcome boost ahead of their opening Euro 2024 game against France this March.
French defender Raphaël Varane has decided to retire from international football after a glittering career with 'Les Bleus'.
The 29-year-old was integral to France's World Cup win in 2018 and nearly helped Didier Deschamp's side win it again this year. The French lost this year's final in Qatar to Argentina on penalties.
He now joins the likes of Tottenham Hotspur's Hugo Lloris as the latest French player to retire this year.
The United star will now concentrate on his club duties with Manchester United going forward.
A statement from Varane read, "Representing our great country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life. Every time I wore this very special blue jersey, I felt immense pride. The duty to give it all, play my heart out and win every time we put on the field. I’ve been contemplating this for several months and deciding it’s the right time for me to retire internationally.
“As a child, I remember following France 98, this team, these players who made us experience indescribable emotions. I dreamed of doing like our heroes and, 20 years later, I had one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, one that made me really proud. We brought the World Cup home!! I will never forget him. I still feel every single emotion I felt that day, July 15, 2018. It was one of the greatest and most memorable moments of my life.
Raphaël Varane announces his retirement from international football 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/p5GTaVi1jY
— utdreport (@utdreport) February 2, 2023
“This victory that we won together would never have been possible without the support of Didier Deschamps, of each of the members of the management and our staff during these years, of my teammates who defended our shirt at each of our matches,"he continued.
“I will miss these moments with you for sure, but the time has come for the new generation to take over. We have a bunch of talented young players who are ready to take over, who deserve a chance and who need you.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Raph.”
Ireland and Stephen Kenny could well be delighted that France will be without one of their best defenders ahead of the game on March 27.
The Boy's in Green head to Paris to face the World Cup finalists in the opening game of their Euro 2024 group.