Russian World Cup hero Igor Akinfeev calls time on international career

Russian World Cup hero Igor Akinfeev calls time on international career
Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has retired from international football, calling time on a 14-year career with the national team in which he won over 100 caps and became a hero as captain at this summer’s World Cup.

Akinfeev, 32, announced the decision through club team CSKA Moscow on Monday, saying: "Every story has its beginning and its end. And my story with the national team has come to its logical conclusion.

“It was a huge honor to lead my country at the World Cup. Honestly, it was something I had could never even have dreamed of. It was, perhaps, the peak of my career with the national team.”

The CSKA stopper was instrumental in Russia’s historic run to the quarter-finals at their home World Cup this summer, including pulling off stunning saves in the penalty shootout victory over Spain at the last 16 stage.

Akinfeev's decisive save from Iago Aspas’ spot-kick, when the 'keeper acrobatically stretched out his left leg to divert the ball away from goal, was one of the most iconic images of the World Cup and of Russian sporting history.

Russia suffered defeat at the hands of Croatia in a penalty shootout in the next round, although Akinfeev and the team were hailed as heroes. Along with former teammate Sergei Ignashevich, Akinfeev was awarded the Order of Honor in recognition of his efforts.

READ MORE: Putin honors Russia World Cup heroes  

In announcing the decision to retire from the international game, Akinfeev said he wanted make way for a younger generation of goalkeepers and citied needing more recovery time from injuries. He signed off his message, 'Rossiya – vperyod!' (Russia, forward!).  

READ MORE: Mystic money: Did this Russian banknote predict Akinfeev shootout save against Spain?

Akinfeev made his debut for ‘Sbornaya’ as an 18-year-old in 2004, and went on to become Russia's third highest capped international with 111 appearances.  

He recently signed a contract to remain at club team CSKA until 2022, by which time he will be 36.  

Russia head coach Stanislav Cherchesov announed his squad on Monday for the upcoming UEFA League of Nations games against Sweden and Turkey, with the goalkeepers named as Lokomotiv Moscow's Guilherme, Zenit St. Petersburg's Andrey Lunyov, and Dynamo Moscow's Anton Shyunin.

Striker Artem Dzyuba is expected to take on Akinfeev's role as captain.