CELTIC skipper Scott Brown has today announced his retirement from the Scotland international set-up.
The 31-year-old midfielder revealed he took the decision to prolong his club career after recovering from injury.
Brown made his Scotland debut against USA in 2005 and, after more than a decade’s service to his country, confirmed the decision to Gordon Strachan ahead of next week’s squad announcement for the opening World Cup qualifier against Malta next month.
The player, who entered the International Roll of Honour when he earned his 50th – and final – cap against Denmark in March, admitted it was the toughest decision of his career.
However, after a summer of deliberation, he decided the demands of international football could not be sustained along with a hectic Celtic schedule, both domestically and in Europe.
Brown said: “Firstly, I would like to thank Gordon for giving me the honour of not only playing for my country, but captaining Scotland in the last campaign.
“I also owe a debt to every Scotland manager before him who selected me – right back to Walter Smith handing me my senior debut – and the national youth coaches along the way.
“Gordon has been one of the most influential people in my career and I did not want to let him or my country down, but over the summer I had a lot of thinking to do.
“It’s no secret I’ve suffered some injuries in my career and once you get over 30 you have to protect your body more.
“I’m not the type of player who can coast half-heartedly through a game – I give 100% every time. Given the importance of this campaign for Scotland – and the challenges ahead at Celtic – I simply felt that I could not keep up both commitments without either my performances or recovery time suffering.
“Gordon understands this completely and I would hope the Scotland supporters understand my position, too.
“The personal disappointment of not reaching a major championship finals with my country was heightened this summer, but we have a great squad of players and I am certain that we can really make a go of this campaign and qualify for Russia.
“I genuinely think we showed in the last campaign that we are good enough to compete with Germany, the world champions, and other nations who qualified ahead of us.
“I would like to thank the fans who travel across Europe to back us, my team-mates and the backroom staff for their support and look forward to seeing them soon.”
Strachan said: “Scott is one of the most wholehearted players I’ve encountered and somebody who puts the team ahead of himself.
“He is not the type to play within himself, either, and I understand and respect the decision he has taken.
“I have huge admiration for a player as selfless as he has been: to sacrifice family time and recovery time to help his country.
“We will miss Scott as a player, no doubt about it, but football evolves and it provides an opportunity for others to step up and take that responsibility.
“We’ll miss him as a person, too, because his influence and popularity around the squad was integral to all that we did as a group.”