Hartson quits international game

Wales striker John Hartson has announced his immediate retirement from international football in order to concentrate on playing for Celtic.

Wales striker John Hartson has announced his immediate retirement from international football in order to concentrate on playing for Celtic.

The 30-year-old has amassed 50 caps for his country, scoring 14 goals, but has decided stepping down from the international scene will prolong his club career.

“It is a sad day for me because I have loved playing for my country and representing the Welsh people for a number of years,” Hartson told www.stellargroup.co.uk.

Hartson scored on his debut in a friendly against Scotland in 1995 and steps down as Wales coach John Toshack begins preparations for qualifying for Euro 2008.

“I always feel enormous pride whenever I put on a Wales shirt and will always cherish the memories of my time with the national team,” said Hartson.

“I would like to thank all the managers, coaches, staff and players who have helped me during my time in the Wales team, but above all I would like to thank the Welsh people for all their support and encouragement.

“It would have been fantastic to reward them with a place at a major tournament but sadly it just wasn't to be.

“However, I would love to think that in the near future the side will go on to achieve some significant success.

“Now I have made this decision I will be concentrating my efforts 100% on doing the best I can for Celtic Football Club and hopefully this decision will allow me to really enjoy the final few years of my career.

“Finally, I would like to wish John Toshack and the Wales squad the very best of luck in qualifying for the 2008 European Championships.”

Hartson’s agent Jonathan Barnett, meanwhile, confirmed the striker wants to stay at Celtic for the rest of his career.

Hartson’s contract expires next year and Portsmouth made persistent efforts to sign him during the January transfer window but Barnett confirmed that the player is not interested in leaving Parkhead.

“He’s certainly got a few years left and he wants to give them all to Celtic,” he said. “John has always said he’s 100% committed to Celtic and he loves it there.”

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