Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy has decided to retire from international football, telling England manager Gareth Southgate that he will “not shut the door completely” but would rather focus on club football.
Vardy, 31, was part of England’s World Cup squad, but he told the Guardian that his infrequent appearances — four in seven games, with a start only in the final group-stage game against Belgium — contributed to the decision.
“When you get selected, you want to be playing,” Vardy said. “If you’re playing week in, week out for your club, you want to be going to England to play as well. And if it’s not happening, then for me personally now, at this age, it’s better to be at home, spending that time with my family and training with my club, preparing for the next game after the international break.”
Vardy signed a new contract at Leicester earlier this month, tying him to the club through the 2021-22 season.
He said he spoke with Southgate two weeks ago to inform him of his decision, and the two had a productive discussion in which he said he will be available to help the team only if there were a major injury crisis.
Vardy has won 26 caps for England and has been called up to every squad since his May 2015.
“I’m not getting any younger and you can see, to be fair to the gaffer, he wants to make it more youthful, which obviously had its benefits during the World Cup — we got to the semi-finals and finished fourth, which is equal to the furthest we have ever been on foreign soil,” Vardy said. “So I just said to Gareth that I think it’s probably best from now on, especially with the way he wants to go, to bring youngsters in who he thinks have got the ability and start nurturing them into international football.”
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill is also set to make his exit from the national team, telling Chelsea TV that is “the right moment” to take a step back from international competition after a similar conversation with Southgate.
Cahill, 32, was the only England player at the World Cup who had won more than 50 caps, with his one appearance — a start in the group-stage game against Belgium — giving him 62 for his career.
“I have been hugely proud in terms of what I have achieved, in terms of over 60 caps and I have captained my country on a few occasions which has been a huge honour and something I have been really proud of in my career,” Cahill said. “Three major tournaments and it should have been four, so I have played pretty solidly over the years I have been involved.
“I have been hugely honoured to have played for my country and I would never shut the door if I was needed in the future, then obviously, I am there.”
Meanwhile, Southgate is considering handing Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Manchester City’s Phil Foden their first senior-team call-ups when he selects his next squad on Thursday, the Mirror reported.
England open the UEFA Nations League against Spain on Sept. 8 and will face Switzerland in a friendly on Sept. 11, and Southgate believes the games could provide an opportunity to work the 18-year-olds into the fold.