Nemanja Matic has been representing his country 48 times since 2008, calling time on his international career with Serbia.

According to Serbian sporting director Vladimir Matijasevic, the Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has retired from international football. Rumors began circulating on Thursday, stating that Matic had opted to leave Serbia despite being included in their new squad.

Matijasevic, who works as a director for the Football Association of Serbia (FSS), reported the decision on Friday. He says that Matic has taken his international career close to enabling younger players to gain recognition on the senior side.

Since 2008, 32-year-old Matic has played for Serbia 48 times and led them in the 2018 World Cup, but now he’ll concentrate on United.

“When I came to the FSS I spoke with [Aleksandar] Mitrovic, [Luka] Milivojevic and Matic,” Matijasevic is quoted as saying by the Serbian Tanjug website.

“Nemanja said he was going to come back then, but he had his own choices that have nothing to do with us. A couple of days ago we spoke on the phone, I called him, and we also agreed to have coffee if our time and obligations were permitted. It was an incredibly fun conversation and he’s ready to finish his national team career.”He has not offered any further concrete explanations – he understands why this is the case, and he has pointed out that it is time for the younger players to take their place.”

“I repeat, it was not persuasion, it was just chatting. I appreciate what he feels. He’s 32 years old, he’s had a rough season behind him, we need empathy. The selector [Ljubisa Tumbakovic] also talked to him and you will certainly hear more about that at the press conference on Monday. That’s Nemanja’s decision, we have to honor that.’

At the beginning of the 2019-20 season, Matic’s days at United looked numbered as he showed clear signs of decline and rising younger players like Fred and Scott McTominay resulted in decreased playtime.

But the former Chelsea midfielder experienced a revival after the turn of the year, with 15 of his 18 Premier League releases coming up in the last term by 2020. He was then awarded a new three-year deal in July, a reward for, especially fine form following the Premier League’s return of a coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

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