Jamie Vardy has effectively retired from international football and informed Gareth Southgate of his decision to focus on club football.
The Leicester striker will step aside to aid Southgate’s plans to usher in a new generation of player and spend more time with his family.
Vardy, 31, has not completely ruled out playing for England again in the event of an injury crisis but believes the time is right to move back from international duty after helping his country to the semi-finals in Russia.
‘This has been on my mind for a while,’ Vardy told the Guardian. ‘I’m not getting any younger and you can see, to be fair to the gaffer, he wants to make it more youthful, which obviously had its benefits during the World Cup.
‘So I just said to Gareth that I think it’s probably best from now on, especially with the way he wants to go, to bring youngsters in who he thinks have got the ability and start nurturing them into international football.’
Vardy, who was joined by Gary Cahill in calling time on his international career on Tuesday, rose from non-league football to win the Premier League title and earn 26 England caps, scoring seven goals. He played at Euro 2016 and this summer’s World Cup.
But being behind Harry Kane in Southgate’s line-up and with an eager group of young strikers coming through, Vardy feels Leicester and family should be his priority.
‘When you get selected, you want to be playing. And if it’s not happening, then for me personally now, at this age, it’s better to be at home, spending that time with my family and training with my club, preparing for the next game after the international break,’ Vardy said.
‘I explained it all to Gareth and he was fine with my decision. I mentioned it to him after the World Cup had finished, out in Russia, and then I spoke to him on the phone a couple of weeks ago.
‘He let it die down a bit, so that I could have a bit more time to think, and then rang me up just to make sure I wasn’t just taking the mickey in Russia. But I hadn’t changed my mind.
‘Gareth said that he felt I still had a lot to offer, and we’ve not shut the door completely. If the worst came to happen and everyone was injured, then obviously I wouldn’t say no.’ Vardy did admit to an element of frustration at only getting on for the final eight minutes of extra-time against Croatia in the semi-final.
‘I thought I could have helped a bit more if I had more minutes,’ Vardy said. ‘You know that you can hurt opponents in certain ways, in the way you play. But it wasn’t to be. And you have to respect the manager’s decisions.’