India defender Anas Edathodika retires from international football

His decision came a day after India crashed out of the AFC Asian Cup

anas-edathodika-afp Anas Edathodika reacts after India's 2-0 loss to the UAE in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup at Zayed Sports City stadium in Abu Dhabi | AFP

India defender and Kerala Blasters centre-back Anas Edathodika announced his retirement from international football, a day after India crashed out of the AFC Asian Cup following a 1-0 loss to Bahrain at Abu Dhabi.

Anas had to be substituted three minutes into the Bahrain match, as he sustained an injury and was unable to carry on. The defender is the second 'casualty' of the AFC Asian Cup exit, after head coach Stephen Constantine, too, decided to part ways with the team.

In an emotional post on social media, the 31-year-old from Malappuram district in Kerala said he was hanging up his boots with “a heavy heart”, but he felt the time was ripe to make way for youngsters.

[sic] “It comes with a very heavy heart today to announce my retirement from Indian national football team. It’s been a very hard decision to take and accept. I love to play more years at my best, but I think it’s the time to step down and give opportunities to youngsters who can perform better.

“It took 11 years to break into the national team and playing for the national team is the top achievement in my career; although the journey was short. Each and every time I tried to give more than 100 percent for the team. I was so disappointed to pick up an injury in the opening minutes and it will hurt me forever,” Anas wrote on social media.

Anas made his international debut in a 3-2 win against Cambodia in March 2017, and went on to don the national jersey for 18 more games. Soon he forged a strong defensive line with Sandesh Jhingan and became a regular in the starting XI. He was signed by Kerala Blasters in the 2018-19 season but missed a few matches because of injury. Though both Jhingan and Anas were together with the Blasters, too, they couldn't recreate the magic for the Kerala outfit. But he singled him, and striker Jeje, for special praise in his post.

[sic] “I just want to say a huge thanks to the coach Stephen Constantine for believing in me and giving me the opportunity and I wish you good luck for the future. Also thanks to all the coaching staffs, teammates, the fans and who all have supported me throughout my journey for the national team. I have been blessed to play for my country, with some of the best players. My heart will forever embrace the feeling of walking through the tunnel and out onto the field donning the national jersey with my brothers.”

“Sandesh Jhingan, we had a good partnership in guarding the central defence, it was an emotion playing with you, brother. Jeje, Trust me, you’re the best room partner I ever had and I’ll miss all these. I wish you all good luck and keep making our nation proud. These memories will stay with me forever.”