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Hodgson surprised by Ferdinand’s retirement decision

Despite his disappointment, the England manager spoke highly of the Manchester United stalwart’s decision to allow a fresh group of defenders to make headway for England

England manager Roy Hodgson admits he was taken aback by Rio Ferdinand’s decision to retire from international football after earning 81 caps for his country.

Earlier this week, the 34-year-old revealed his ambition to pen a new contract at Manchester United having yet to feature under Hodgson since his exclusion from the Euro 2012 squad for "footballing reasons".

And after rejecting a call-up in March for England’s World Cup 2014 Qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, the defender has finally called time on his international career.

When asked by Sky Sports for his reaction at the decision, Hodgson admitted that was surprised by the announcement.

“I didn't expect it, no,” he said.

“It's obviously something he's thought about and he's kept his cards close to his chest. It came as a big surprise to me yesterday as it would today when the news broke.

“He’s a player who I've always respected and admired. I can hope only he can also carry on for a number of years at the highest level and with the quality he's continued to show.”

But despite being taken aback by the news, Hodgson lauded Ferdinand’s motives and agreed that the time is right for the 34-year-old to withdraw from the England squad.

“I respect the decision. It was good of Rio to call me yesterday [Tuesday] before I selected the squad and tell me that he'd rather not be considered and that it was time to retire,” he added.

“I think his sentiments are fantastic, admirable. I agree with him, we do have a crop of interesting players coming on.”

“I think it's good that he accepts it is the right time for him to step aside. He has been a fantastic servant to his country and club.

“I respect his decision and wish him well in the future and thank him for the very kind sentiments he made with regard to the team and our future.”

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