German legend Bernd Schuster reveals why he retired from international football aged just 24

Bernd Schuster Germany international
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bernd Schuster has explained his reasoning for retiring from the West Germany national team at just 24-years-old, citing major disagreements with the German federation that caused him to 

At 20, Schuster made his international debut, a year before winning the European Championship in 1980. Named in the Team of the Tournament, his performances across that season also earned him second place in Europe's best player award, behind team-mate Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

However, having played 21 times between 1979 and 1984, scoring four goals, Schuster hung up his international boots. Dissatisfied with the perceived treatment he was receiving, he walked away from West Germany to focus on his club football at Barcelona. 

"I grew annoyed with the German federation for not acknowledging all of the efforts I was making just to play for my country," Schuster explained to FourFourTwo.

"We had a friendly match against Brazil [in 1981] and I really wanted to be there, but Barça had a Copa del Rey fixture against Rayo Vallecano on the same day – Barça wouldn’t let me go, so I ran away without their permission. 

"The German federation were angry with me for doing it, and I was fed up with them about that. I felt like I was being forced to pay the price for wanting to represent my country."

Schuster also refused to play in a match against Albania in 1984, opting to instead stay home for the birth of his second son, David. This caused national outrage, and further added to his decision to retire from international football. 

Had he continued playing for the national team, he almost certainly would have been part of the squad that won the 1990 World Cup. Naturally, Schuster regrets the decision, blaming his youthfulness for the poor way he dealt with the situation. 

"Yeah, of course [I regret it]. I was still young, reckless and impulsive. That generation went on to win the 1990 World Cup and I could’ve been there. 

"I didn’t have anyone by my side to offer good advice. No players in Germany had an agent then – only Beckenbauer, no one else."

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.