India centre-back Anas Edathodika has announced his retirement from international football, a day after a hamstring injury forced him off the field within four minutes of the crucial Asian Cup clash against Bahrain in Sharjah.
"It's been a very hard decision to take and accept. I love (sic) to play more years at my best, but I think it's the time to step down and give opportunities to youngsters who can perform better," Kerala Blasters defender Anas said in a social media post announcing his decision, where he said further that the injury picked up in the early moments of the Bahrain game will "hurt me forever".
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It comes with a very heavy heart today to announce my retirement from Indian national football team. It's been a very hard decision to take and accept. I love to play more years at my best, but I think it's the time to step down and give opportunities to youngsters who can perform better. It took 11 years to break into the national team and playing for the national team is the top achievement in my career; although the journey was short. Each and every time I tried to give more than 100 percent for the team. I was so disappointed to pick up an injury in the opening minutes and it will hurt me forever. I just want to say a huge thanks to the coach @stephenconstantine for believing in me and giving me the opportunity and I wish you good luck for the future. Also thanks to all the coaching staffs, teammates, the fans and who all have supported me throughout my journey for the national team. I have been blessed to play for my country, with some of the best players. My heart will forever embrace the feeling of walking through the tunnel and out onto the field donning the national jersey with my brothers. @sandesh21jhingan, we had a good partnership in guarding the central defence, it was an emotion playing with you, Brother. @jejefanai, Trust me, you're the best room partner I ever had and I'll miss all these! I wish you all good luck and keep making our nation proud. These memories will stay with me forever, ♥️. I'm not giving up, my loves. I think this is right time to take right decision. Much love, Anas Edathodika.
Anas,31, picked up 19 caps for India in all (11 wins, 4 defeats, 4 draws), and was one of 47 players handed their debut by coach Stephen Constantine, who himself announced his resignation after the 1-0 defeat to Bahrain saw India become the first team to be knocked out of the 24-team Asian Cup.
Anas had made his debut in a 3-2 away friendly win against Cambodia in March 2017. Alongside Sandesh Jhingan in the heat of the Indian defence, he played all six of the team's Asian Cup qualifiers that paved their return to the continental tournament for the first time since 2011.