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On this day in 2001: Tony Adams retires from international football aged 34

England Tony Adams
(Image credit: Stefan Rousseau)

England and Arsenal defender Tony Adams announced his retirement from international football on this day in 2001.

Adams, then 34, said he wanted to focus on what remained of his club career after struggling with a number of fitness issues.

The centre-back, who captained England as they reached the semi-finals of Euro 96, had won 66 caps since making his debut against Spain in Madrid in 1987.

His decision came as the national side prepared to begin a new era under Sven-Goran Eriksson and ruled him out of contention for the 2002 World Cup.

Adams felt injuries were beginning to take their toll and, having just signed a new contract with the Gunners, thought he needed to step away.

“I have taken the decision to listen to my body,” he said. “Something has to give and it has to be the internationals.

“I want to give the benefit of the time I have left in the game to Arsenal. I can’t keep being cruel to them by playing for England then missing club games.”

Adams played under five England managers in Bobby Robson, Graham Taylor, Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan.

Adams (back row, far right) earned 66 caps and played in four major tournaments

Adams (back row, far right) earned 66 caps and played in four major tournaments (Adam Butler/PA)

Euro 88 was his first major tournament but he was left out for the 1990 World Cup and missed Euro 92 through injury.

England did not qualify for the 1994 World Cup but he was re-established by 1996, being Venables’ clear choice as skipper. Hoddle preferred Alan Shearer as his captain but Adams remained a cornerstone of the side at the 1998 World Cup and also played at Euro 2000 under Keegan.

He scored five goals in his international career, including the last by an England player at the old Wembley stadium, against Ukraine in May 2000.

Adams continued at Arsenal for another season before bringing his two-decade playing career to an end in the summer of 2002.

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