Croatian defender Dejan Lovren announced his international retirement on Thursday, following a storied run with the “Fiery Ones” that included second and third place finishes at the World Cup.
“The time has come to say my final goodbye to the Croatian national team,” said Lovren in a message published by the Croatian Football Federation.
Lovren added that he had made this decision “with an open heart and after a lot of consideration”.
The 33-year-old’s international career spanned for 14 years. The defender was instrumental to Croatia’s World Cup underdog runs, including the second place finish in Russia in 2018 and the third place win in Qatar last year.
“As a child, I dreamt of playing at major tournaments and getting to put on that red-and-white shirt. I put on the Croatian checkers for the first time when I was nine years old and I will never forget that special feeling — like putting on Superman’s cape,” said Lovren.
The coach of Croatia’s national team Zlatko Dalic hailed Lovren as “one of the locker room leaders” capable of “motivating the whole team” who was “a real fighter” and “the player you want to have in your ranks in every battle”.
“In his career, he faced a lot of criticism and mistrust, but he was always a formidable fighter who can … be very proud of what he has achieved,” said Dalic in a statement.
The centre-back was heavily criticised last year, after he was filmed singing a Croatian song that features a pro-Nazi slogan from World War Two, but Lovren insisted that the tune was “not fascist at all”.
The player also claimed to be misunderstood after he tweeted a photo which seemed to show him cancelling his Disney+ subscription just after the American media company had made clear its opposition to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation.
Lovren started his career in Dinamo Zagreb before moving abroad — first to Lyon and later Southampton, before a memorable stint at Liverpool, where he won titles in the Premier League and Champions League.
Lovren later spent three seasons at Zenit in Saint-Petersburg before returning to Lyon in January.
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