England’s post-World Cup gathering descended into farce tonight after Wes Brown joined Paul Robinson in announcing his international retirement.
At least Brown made it to the Three Lions’ Watford HQ to deliver the news to Fabio Capello in person, but on a day that began with Robinson signalling his intention to quit, the England manager is now two men short for Wednesday’s friendly with Hungary.
It is hard not to feel an element of sympathy for Capello, who had no idea what was coming when he announced his squad yesterday evening. But in failing to discover whether two experienced fringe players wished to continue representing their country, Capello is left looking as though he is presiding over a regime no one wants to be involved with.
In both instances, though, the decision is not entirely a surprise.
Robinson won the last of his 41 caps almost three years ago in the Euro 2008 qualifying defeat to Russia and was totally overlooked by Fabio Capello for the first 18 months of his reign.
Although his cause was championed by Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce, Capello never gave any impression of being convinced by the former Tottenham man and it was no surprise when he was omitted from the 23-man World Cup squad.
Even when he was chosen for next week’s friendly with Hungary, it seemed fairly obvious his would be a supporting role to Joe Hart and Ben Foster, who are set to battle for the number one jersey.
Robinson clearly thought this way and having been surprised to be chosen, promptly made himself unavailable.
“I have taken the decision to retire from international football with immediate effect,” said Robinson in a statement.
“Only now have I been able to make this decision as previously I haven’t been in contention for selection.
“As a professional who wants to play every time I have the chance I don’t see myself as a number three or four keeper and find that role very frustrating,” he added.
“I haven’t had the opportunity of anything other than this [not being first choice] in recent years therefore I feel it in the best interest of myself and my club Blackburn Rovers that I concentrate solely on my club football.”
For his part, Brown knows he has a battle on his hands to force his way back into the Manchester United team on a regular basis again after playing no part in today’s Community Shield triumph over Chelsea at Wembley.
The 30-year-old missed out on a spot at the World Cup thanks to one of those injuries that have frequently stalled his career and Brown has decided that club duty must take priority, ending his England duty on 23 caps, dating back to his first appearance against Hungary in 1999.
“After a lot of thought and with a very heavy heart, I have decided the time is right for me to retire from international football,” said the defender.
“At the age of 30, I feel it is right for me to stand aside and let younger players come through, which allows me to concentrate on my club career.
“I regard it as an honour and privilege to have represented my country at every level from Under-15s upwards.
“I have always been very proud to play for England and wish them well in future tournaments.”
Capello has opted not to draft in any replacements just yet but as he digests the news, he knows the gloss has been taken off what is the start of a new era following the introductions of Arsenal duo Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs into the senior ranks.