AC Milan's Czech defender Marek Jankulovski said he was quitting international football after the Czech Republic lost all hope of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ on Wednesday.
"I can confirm this. This was my last game," he said after the last Group 3 qualifier in which the Czechs were held to a surprise goalless draw by Northern Ireland. The Czechs ended third in Group 3, trailing winners Slovakia by six points and runners-up Slovenia by four.
"It's been a wonderful ten years," said the 32-year-old former Banik Ostrava, Napoli and Udinese player, who has won 78 caps, scoring eleven times for his country.
I can confirm this. This was my last game.
Czech coach Ivan Hasek also confirmed he would quit after the match with Northern Ireland, a move he had announced when he took over the national team in July, shortly after he was elected head of the Czech Football Association.
"Yes, it was [the last game]," said the 46-year-old former Sparta Prague and Strasbourg player and manager, capped 56 times for his country. His former Sparta team-mate and now assistant Michal Bilek, 44, seems to be the most likely replacement, according to Czech media.
The Czechs, who played at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and all UEFA Euro tournaments between 1996 and 2008, started the 2010 campaign as odds-on favourites in Group 3. But they ended up pinning their hopes on San Marino in vain, as the minnows lost at home to Slovenia who clinched a spot in the play-offs after a comfortable 3-0 win. Slovakia beat Poland 1-0 to reach the finals.