LONDON: Rio Ferdinand has retired formally from England national team football with 81 caps to his name.

The 34-year-old clinched a sixth Premier League title with Manchester United this season and said after Sunday’s final home game that he was keen to sign a new contract at Old Trafford.

Ferdinand, for whom United paid Leeds £34m in 2002, has been in the international wilderness since Roy Hodgson took charge last year – missing out on Euro 2012 and then pulling out of the squad when eventually recalled for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in March.

“After a great deal of thought, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football,” said Ferdinand, who regularly undergoes injections in his spine to keep a persistent back problem at bay.

“At 34, I feel it is right for me to stand aside and let the younger players come through, which allows me to concentrate on my club career. The team looks in great shape and there is an influx of young, talented players coming through the ranks which bodes well for the future.

“I regard it as a great honour and a privilege to have represented my country at every level from U17s upwards. I have always been very proud to play forEngland. I would like to wish Roy and the team all the best for future tournaments.”

England manager Hodgson paid due tribute to the former West Ham man, saying: “It is important to pay tribute to someone of Rio’s stature and the achievements he had in a senior international career with England over 14 years at the highest level.

“To have captained his country, to play at three World Cups and indeed score in one of those, marks him out amongst a very special group of players.

“I wish him all the best in his club career, and I’m sure the former managers he played under and everyEnglandfan will join me in thanking him for his service.”