Burnley midfielder Steven Defour has announced his retirement from international football in order to focus on extending his club career. The 30-year-old last featured for the English club in his side’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in January.
Defour played through pain weeks before his last appearance and was forced to undergo surgery on his knee. He spent the rest of the season on the sidelines and that hampered his chances of making it to Roberto Martinez’s Belgium squad for the 2018 World Cup. He has now announced that he will step back from international duty.
“I have been working hard for the World Cup over the last few months. In the beginning it was quite clear that it would become a mission impossible. That has also come true. I’m not going to the World Cup for obvious reasons,” Defour is quoted by HLN as saying.
“I always thought the 2018 World Cup would be one of my last tournament swith Belgum, partly due to some serious injuries. I want to practice my career as long as possible and for that I can concentrate everything at club level.
“I have had a very long career as an international. I had a great time and would like to thank everyone for it, from staff to players and supporters. But there are many players ready and there is a new generation coming. I wish them all the best.”
Defour’s contract at Burnley runs down in 2019 and Sean Dyche’s side have an option to extend for a further year. Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws claims the Clarets will take up an option to extend the midfielder’s stay at Turf Moor until 2020.
On Thursday, another Belgian publication Het Belang van Limburg reported reported Defour will retired from international football, and they talked of a two year extension rather than the one year deal being claimed today.
HLN reports Defour did not want to announce his retirement in the run-up for the World Cup. However, his decision to retire was leaked to the press and thus he was forced to announce it even before Belgium flew to Russia.