Ferdinand announces England retirement

Rio Ferdinand announced his retirement from international soccer on Wednesday so that he can focus on his club career with Manchester United.

Ferdinand spent almost two years away from England's national team before he was recalled by manager Roy Hodgson in March.

But the 34-year-old decided to withdraw from the team due to concerns over his fitness.

"After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football," Ferdinand said.

"At the age of 34, I feel it is right for me to stand aside and let the younger players come through, which allows me to concentrate on my club career."

Ferdinand made his England debut in 1997 against Cameroon and went on to earn 81 caps for the Three Lions.

He was a part of three World Cup teams for England, and only a late injury prior to the 2010 tournament kept him from playing in a fourth World Cup.

"It is important to pay tribute to someone of Rio's stature and the achievements he had in a senior international career with England over 14 years at the highest level," said Hodgson.

"To have captained his country, to play at three World Cups and indeed score in one of those, marks him out amongst a very special group of players."