After decades of messy scandals; from allegation of racism from French media and fans, to a disastrous blackmail case, Karim Benzema’s tumultous career with Les Bleus is over.

His announcement came through social media.

“I made the efforts and the mistakes it took to get to where I am today, and I’m proud of that,” he tweeted to his 18.7 million followers. “I have written my own story, and our story is ending.”

Karim Benzema retires

His bombshell announcement comes hours after he celebrated his 35th birthday, and just a day after France heartbreakingly lost the World Cup final on penalties.

Benzema retires from international football with 97 caps; tied for tenth most in French history, and with 37 goals, fifth in French history. Some of his memorable moments with the team include winning the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League, where he scored two goals.

Benzema’s time with France was marred by a multitude of incidents. He was criticized by France regular William Gallas as being “arrogant” during Euro 2008. After missing the 30-man squad for the World Cup in 2010, he hit a good patch of form under new manager Laurent Blanc. Benzema had a good time at Euro 2012 and even scored three goals in World Cup 2014.

Yet Benzema would miss both Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018 due to his role in an alleged blackmailing scandal involving France teammate Mathias Valbuena. His return to France in Euro 2020 saw him score four goals in four games, but again, France fell short.

His relationship with France fans has been rocky to say the least. France, which has recently been rocked by xenophobia and racism, has complicated his relationship with Les Bleus.

After a particularly rough game in 2011 where he was ridiculed in mainstream pressed, Benzema complained, “If I score, I am French. If I don’t, I am Arab.” Multiple stars, including Kylian Mbappe, have also had to deal with the issue.

The Real Madrid striker and Ballon d’Or winner declined an opportunity to end his international career with a bang when he declined an invitation from France president Emmanuel Macron to rejoin the France camp. Benzema missed the entire World Cup with a thigh injury.

Photo credit: IMAGO / NurPhoto