Switzerland captain Alex Frei has announced he is retiring from international football at the end of the season, claiming fierce criticism of his recent performances made up his mind.
The FC Basle striker will be available for his country for the final time in their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England at Wembley next June. The former Borussia Dortmund striker is Switzerland's record goal-scorer with 40 in 81 games. He talked extensively with his family and colleagues, and with Basle and Switzerland before making his decision, according to a statement on the Swiss FA's official website.
I respect Alex's decision. It was anything but easy for him to make this decision.
Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld
"In my decision I took into account the numerous positive wishes, requests and pieces of advice of all those people who encouraged me to continue my international career, The 31-year-old said. "Equally I bore in mind and took seriously the signals of those groups who recently have made no secret of their opinion that my time in the national team is over."
Frei added he was announcing his decision early so as not to leave the team in the lurch and give coach Ottmar Hitzfeld plenty of time to prepare for his retirement. "I am very sorry about Alex's plans to retire from the national team at the end of the season, because we will be losing one of the most experienced and successful performers of recent years and the most prolific Swiss striker of all time, Hitzfeld added "On the other hand I respect Alex's decision. It was anything but easy for him to make this decision."