French servants bow to Father Time

Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele confirmed they were retiring from international football following France's elimination from UEFA EURO 2008™ on Tuesday.

Second retirement
The pair are stepping down having already gone into retirement once, only to return along with Zin├ędine Zidane to help Les Bleus qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and then reach the final. This time, however, their decisions are unlikely to be reversed. The 2-0 defeat by Italy, which left their team bottom of Group C with just one point from three matches, was hardly the ending that two of France's greatest servants would have envisaged.

Record appearances
Makelele, who earned his 71st cap against the world champions in Zurich, featured in every minute of the campaign but could do nothing to prevent a telling defeat against a determined Italy side. Thuram watched the game from the substitutes' bench, left out having started against Romania and the Netherlands – appearances that took his record haul of caps to 142 and setting an unprecedented mark of 16 UEFA European Championship finals appearances. "I still intend to keep playing [at club level] but I don't know where that will be," said the FC Barcelona defender.

Integral member
Thuram, 36, first donned the France shirt in 1994 and was an integral member of the team that won the World Cup in 1998 and the UEFA European Championship in 2000. He endeared himself to supporters by scoring twice in quick succession in the 2-1 semi-final win over Croatia in 1998 – the only goals he scored for his country. Makelele was born in DR Congo but first appeared for his adopted country against Norway in 1995. After missing out on the triumphs of 1998 and 2000, the Chelsea FC anchorman established himself as a key member of the side, featuring in two World Cups and two UEFA European Championships.


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