Celtic captain Scott Brown has announced he is retiring from international duty and will not be available for Scotland’s qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup.
Brown, who won 50 caps across a decade, said he has made the decision as he could not maintain performance levels for both club and country at the age of 31.
But Brown believes Scotland can qualify for the World Cup in Russia under the leadership of Gordon Strachan, despite missing out on Euro 2016.
“I’m not the type of player who can coast half-heartedly through a game – I give 100 per cent every time,” said Brown.
“Given the importance of this campaign for Scotland, and the challenges ahead at Celtic, I simply felt that I could not keep up both commitments without either my performances or recovery time suffering.
“Gordon understands this completely and I would hope the Scotland supporters understand my position, too.
“The personal disappointment of not reaching a major championship finals with my country was heightened this summer but we have a great squad of players and I am certain that we can really make a go of this campaign and qualify for Russia.
“I genuinely think we showed in the last campaign that we are good enough to compete with Germany, the world champions, and other nations who qualified ahead of us.”
— Scottish FA (@ScottishFA) August 19, 2016
Strachan, whose side face England, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta in World Cup qualifying, paid tribute to Brown and acknowledged Scotland will miss the combative central midfielder.
“Scott is one of the most wholehearted players I’ve encountered and somebody who puts the team ahead of himself,” Strachan said.
“He is not the type to play within himself, either, and I understand and respect the decision he has taken. I have huge admiration for a player as selfless as he has been: to sacrifice family time and recovery time to help his country.
“We will miss Scott as a player, no doubt about it, but football evolves and it provides an opportunity for others to step up and take that responsibility.
“We’ll miss him as a person, too, because his influence and popularity around the squad was integral to all that we did as a group.”
Scotland’s World Cup qualifying campaign gets under way in Malta on September 4 as they bid to reach the finals of a major international tournament for the first time since 1998.