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Switzerland goalkeeper Benaglio announces retirement

AFP
Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio clears the ball in the second half of extra time during a Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014
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Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio clears the ball in the second half of extra time during a Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014 (AFP Photo/Gabriel Bouys)

Geneva (AFP) - Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio announced his international retirement on Wednesday, saying that he wanted to concentrate on his club career with German side Wolfsburg.

"Firstly, at the age of 31, I'm no longer the youngest player and I want to put more focus on my club, and secondly, I want to spend more time with my family," Benaglio said in a statement issued by the Swiss Football Association.

Benaglio has won up 61 caps since making his debut in 2006, and rapidly earned his berth as first-choice 'keeper after the 2008 retirement of Pascal Zuberbuehler.

"I'm in good shape, but once you're over 30, you need just a little bit more time to recover than you used to," said Benaglio, who played at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

Wolfsburg face a match-packed Bundesliga, German Cup and Europa League season.

"This hasn't been an easy decision for me. The Swiss team has developed in fine fashion, and we have a great group with an excellent atmosphere," he said.

"But that's also the reason that I don't feel that I'm abandoning the team. Switzerland has a rising generation of quality 'keepers, especially when you look at Swiss goalies in the Bundesliga," he added.

Among Switzerland's other goalkeepers who ply their trade at German clubs are Augsburg's Marwin Hitz, Freiburg's Roman Buerki, and Yann Sommer of Moenchengladbach.

The Swiss have spent the past decade and a half working on a youth development strategy that has won them plaudits and paid dividends.

They have put on solid displays on the international stage, most recently at the World Cup, where they reached their target of the round of 16, only exiting due to an extra-time goal by Argentina.

They are now eyeing a slot at Euro 2016 in France, and take on England at home in the qualifiers on September 8.

Switzerland's new manager Vladimir Petkovic, who took the helm after veteran Ottmar Hitzfeld bowed out after the World Cup, had recently said that Benaglio remained his prime goalkeeping choice.

He said that he regretted the player's decision but understood that it had been carefully weighed up.

"Diego has enough experience to know the responsiblity he is taking for his decision. For me, it's now a matter of looking forward. Fortunately, we have other quality alternatives for the position," Petkovic said.

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