Wales midfielder Jason Koumas has quit international football just three days before his country's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Russia.
The Wigan Athletic player, who has struggled for several months with hamstring problems, believes he can extend his Premier League career only by taking the maximum rest time between matches.
Wrexham-born Koumas informed Wales boss John Toshack of his decision on Sunday 6 September, conscious that his injury would rule him out of Wednesday's Millennium Stadium clash anyway. Koumas has taken a similar line to former Wales captain Ryan Giggs, who also quit to extend his first-team career at Manchester United.
Koumas has won 34 caps and would almost certainly have retired before next year's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers. And with just away games against Finland and Liechtenstein to follow the Russia match in European Zone qualifying Group 4, he decided now was the time.
Toshack accepted the decision, told the 29-year-old he wishes him well with his future career at Wigan and thanked him for his services to Wales.
I would like to get Craig Bellamy, Koumas, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Collison
and Gareth Bale on the pitch together at some stage - but it just does
not seem to happen that way.
Koumas made his Wales debut against Ukraine in 2001 and has scored 10 goals for his country. He has made his decision, it is believed, after discussions with new Wigan boss Roberto Martinez - who has told him he sees him as an integral part of his team. Sadly, Koumas never fulfilled his early potential for his country, with indifferent performances particularly away from home believed to have been partly caused by a fear of flying.
This week, it was clear Koumas was struggling for fitness, with Toshack reported: "This is a worrying injury; we have had reports from Wigan to that effect.
"I would like to get Craig Bellamy, Koumas, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Collison and Gareth Bale on the pitch together at some stage - but it just does not seem to happen that way."
Toshack always acknowledged Koumas' talent, and frequently backed the player when he was unavailable. This even though the clever, inventive midfielder did not always deliver the international performances his excellent technique and passing ability promised.
Koumas' last game for Wales will be the disastrous home defeat by Finland in March when South Africa 2010 qualification chances were effectively ended. The player was known to be upset he was singled out then for criticism, despite the fact the Welsh camp knew he was carrying an injury.
Wales will also this week be without Bristol City defender Lewin Nyatanga, who is recovering from mumps. Youngsters Collison and Simon Church - who both have to attend the funerals of their fathers next week - have also left the squad. They have been told they would be welcomed back for the match if it fits in with their family plans.