Russia captain Igor Akinfeev calls time on his international career


MOSCOW, Russia – Russia's World Cup captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev announced Monday, October 1, he was retiring from international football after playing 111 times for his country.

The 32-year-old said that after 15 years with the national side, he had decided to give way to his younger colleagues and to focus completely on his club duties with CSKA Moscow. 

"Every story has its beginning and its end. So, my story with the national team has come to its logical conclusion," he said in a statement on CSKA's website.

"It was a great honor for me to captain Russia's national side at a home World Cup. I hadn't even dreamt it could happen. But it has happened and it was probably the peak of my career."

"I leave with a clear conscience. A young and promising generation (of players) has appeared in Russia," he added. "We must believe in our youth and support them."

At the World Cup, Akinfeev played every minute of Russia's matches as they confounded pre-tournament predictions by reaching the last eight, where they were beaten by eventual finalists Croatia in a penalty shoot-out.

Akinfeev saved a penalty from Iago Aspas in the last-16 shoot-out against Spain that secured Russia a place in the quarterfinals.

He made his debut for Russia in 2004. He was a member of the national squad which reached the last four of Euro 2008 and played for Russia at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Zenit's Andrey Lunev played in last month's games against Turkey and the Czech Republic and now looks set to have the chance to establish himself as Russia's first-choice goalkeeper.

Anton Shunin of Dynamo Moscow and the Brazilian-born Guilherme Marinato are also in the squad for this month's Nations League games against Turkey and Sweden.

Alexander Golovin of Monaco and Alan Dzagoev of CSKA are also in a 25-man squad after recovering from injuries.

Russia takes on Sweden on October 11 in Kaliningrad and then faces Turkey in the Black Sea resort of Sochi 3 days later. –