PARIS (AP) — France forward Karim Benzema indicated he is retiring from internationals in a post on social networks on Monday, a day after the team lost the World Cup final without him.
After earning the Ballon d’Or as the world’s top player to crown his remarkable rise, Benzema’s dream of winning the World Cup ended before the tournament in Qatar when he tore a left thigh muscle in training with Les Bleus.
“I made the effort and the mistakes it took to be where I am today and I’m proud of it! I have written my story and ours is ending,” Benzema wrote on his 35th birthday, in a post accompanied by a picture of him in a France shirt.
The Real Madrid striker was France’s top scorer at the 2014 World Cup but did not play in the country’s victorious 2018 World Cup campaign because he was still exiled from the national team for his alleged role in a sex-tape scandal with then-France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
The fallout from that scandal led to a dramatic fall from grace for Benzema. He faced a nationwide deluge of vitriol and scathing criticism, including on the political level. It led to a long exclusion from the national team from October 2015 until his recall by Deschamps in May last year.
With his relationship with Deschamps repaired, Benzema scored freely for France with 10 goals in 16 games after his return to reach 37 overall, and he formed a great partnership with Kylian Mbappe.
His most impressive run of performances came in last season’s Champions League as he led Madrid to the title — his fifth in Europe’s top competition — with 15 goals. He has moved up to second place on Madrid’s all-time scoring list with 329 goals.
At last year’s European Championship, Benzema looked sharp and was France’s top scorer with four goals.
Olivier Giroud started for France in Benzema’s place at the World Cup in Qatar and finished the tournament with four goals, but he was substituted before halftime of Sunday’s final with Argentina leading 2-0.
France fought back for 2-2 after 90 minutes and 3-3 following extra time before Argentina won a penalty shootout to cap one of the most exciting finals in World Cup history.
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The Associated Press