Varane bids farewell to France chapter
Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has bid farewell to the French national team following his recent retirement from international football.
The 29-year-old was welcomed back to the Stade de France ahead of Les Bleus' UEFA European Championship qualifying clash with the Netherlands this evening, and was greeted with tremendous support from spectators inside the ground.
Along with Hugo Lloris, Blaise Matuidi and Steve Mandanda, the quartet were welcomed onto the pitch, with supporters given one final chance to bid farewell to four members of Didier Deschamps' 2018 World Cup winning squad in Paris.
Blaise, Hugo, Karim, Raphaël, Steve… 𝙏𝙃𝘼𝙉𝙆 𝙔𝙊𝙐 🙌— French Team ⭐⭐ (@FrenchTeam) March 24, 2023
4⃣5⃣4⃣ caps ✨#FiersdetreBleus pic.twitter.com/AgPRwVqs9i
Varane, who was capped 93 times for his country, called time on his career at international level after France's penalty shootout defeat against Argentina at last year's 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, stating he had nothing left to give for his country at the age of 29.
Rapha's effort and endeavour couldn't be understated for his country and following his appearance this evening, the Reds defender took to Instagram to thank fans for their support over the years.
''Thank you so much for the amazing welcome!!! What an honor to be able to close this wonderful chapter of my career in this way,'' he wrote on social media earlier this evening.
''Even in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined all this. There are no words strong enough to describe my love for the France team.
''I was always proud to represent my country. I’ve been blessed to wear this beautiful shirt for 10 years. Gave it my all, from the first game to the last. I went through all the emotions. Ups and downs, with of course as a highlight, the World Cup!
''Through it all, I have always felt your support and encouragement. Today I am simply happy and proud to have been part of this journey. I am committed to continuing this beautiful legacy we built, together, through @generation.2018 . I would always be behind our French team. Thank you.''
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Erik declares his "deep respect" for Rapha, following the defender's retirement from international football.
Witnessing Kylian Mbappe's first act as the new captain of the French national team, Les Bleus were in fine form, as they saw off the Netherlands 4-0 in their opening qualifying match for the upcoming UEFA European Championships.
Antoine Griezmann, Dayot Upamecano and Kylian Mbappe (two) were all on target in Paris, as Varane watched on from the stands alongside his former international team-mates.
Congratulations Rapha, for all of your achievements with France.