RAPHAEL VARANE has revealed that football’s “suffocating” schedule is one of the reasons behind his retirement from international football aged 29.
The 2018 World Cup-winning defender shocked the football world on Thursday when he decided to step away from representing France.
Varane’s tough call came nearly two months on from France’s devastating World Cup final loss to Argentina on penalties.
And the Manchester United defender says playing consistently at the highest level has taken its toll on him.
Varane said in an interview with Canal+ that is due to be released in full on Sunday: “I gave everything, physically and mentally.
“But the very highest level is like a washing machine, you play all the time and you never stop.
“We have overloaded schedules and play non-stop.
“Right now, I feel like I’m suffocating and that [Varane] the player is gobbling up [Varane] the man.”
Varane’s decision to retire from international football follows on from World Cup-winning captain Hugo Lloris’ departure from the set-up.
However, the four-time Champions League winner has been slammed by former France star Jerome Rothen as a “disaster”.
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Rothen won 13 caps for his country between 2003 and 2007.
He told Spanish outlet AS: “I think that at this age and when you play in a club that allows you to be at a very high level, you have a duty.
“It’s to bring your talent to your country. He’s a disaster. He has a long history, congratulations!
“He won the most beautiful of competitions, the World Cup in 2018. We saw all his contribution to the last World Cup.
“There was scepticism because he was coming off an injury, but he performed very well.
“But I tell myself: what a decision! It’s a disaster to hear that, not to wearing the national team shirt again at 29. He can’t do that.
“Raphael, don’t forget you brought a lot, but here you are doing something stupid! The competition?
“He put players in his pocket. It’s a major madness within this group.”
Rothen then went on to speculate on the mood of the France camp post-Qatar World Cup.
He concluded: “I can only think of one reason for him stopping at 29, it is because the atmosphere of the French must not be good.
“Which France national team player stopped at the age of 29?”
Varane was considered to be Lloris’ replacement as France’s captain, but the weight on the country will now most likely rest on Kylian Mbappe’s shoulders.
The Paris Saint-Germain star has also confirmed himself as one of the best in world football and is on course to carve out a legendary career.
Mbappe scored a hat-trick in the final against Argentina, and netted his penalty in the shootout, only to end up on the losing team.
He is only the second player to score three in a World Cup final, following on from England’s Sir Geoff Hurst in 1966.
Mbappe has 12 World Cup finals goals to his name at just 24, and is just four behind record holder Miroslav Klose.