German striker Lukas Podolski has announced that he is retiring from international football with immediate effect.
The former Arsenal and Bayern man amassed 129 appearances and 49 goals across 12 years for Die Mannschaft, and announced the news via a Facebook post.
It read: “Before the season and international matches start again soon, I wanted to inform you something: I’ve told the national team coach (Joachim Low) that I will no longer be playing for the national team.
“I am going to cut down a bit and dedicate myself more to other things, in particular my family.
“I am sure they are not going to complain when I have more time for them in future, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
During his international career, Podolski scored 48 goals and helped Germany win the 2014 World Cup and finish runners-up at Euro 2008.
Only two other players – Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose – have made more appearances for Germany, while only Klose and Gerd Muller are ahead of Podolski in the national team’s goalscoring charts.
It was therefore understandably difficult for Podolski to bring an end to that era at the age of 31.
“The decision has been very hard,” added the former Arsenal forward. “The national team always had a place in my heart, and they always will do.
“But I felt after Euro 2016 and my holidays that my focus has shifted.
“Everything has its time, and my time with the DFB (German Football Association) is over.
“This is a very emotional farewell for me. I am proud of what I have been able to experience with the DFB. Nothing can replace the joy, passion and togetherness I felt while with the DFB.
“From the two-year-old Polish lad who came to Germany, practically with a football underneath his arm, to the World champions – that is more than I could ever have dreamed of.”
The former Bayern Munich and Arsenal forward, who is currently playing for Turkish side Galatasaray, added: “My biggest thanks go to you, the fans.
“You have always stood by me, even in the bad times. I could always rely on you and this bond between us was extremely important.
“I am going to miss you the most and I hope I have been able to give a little bit back to you which you have given to me. Many thanks for everything.”
Podolski will now watch his former team-mates as they seek to defend their World Cup title in Russia in 2018.
“That trophy has got to stay in Germany in 2018,” he said. “I will be keeping my fingers crossed as a big fan of this great team.
“It has been an honour.”