John Terry admits his failure to reach 100 England caps is the one of the biggest regrets of his career.
The Chelsea captain retired in 2012 after the FA pursued charges against him despite being cleared in court of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand in a Premier League game with QPR.
Terry has since watched England skipper Wayne Rooney join England’s hundred club and says not reaching three figures is something that eats away at him.
“I loved it up until a certain point when everything went on,” he told ex-international team-mate Jamie Carragher in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“It disappointed me, more than anything. I look back on my 78 caps and I am unbelievably proud. I was captain for two spells. It is the biggest honour you can have in football. As a kid, it is the thing that everyone wants.
“I am just disappointed with how it ended, really. I never saw myself walking away. It took something that big to say enough is enough. Once you get to 50 caps, then 60, then 70 – I had a target of 100 caps. That is all I ever wanted to do.
“Number one was to play for England, second was to be captain and third was to get 100 caps. I will watch games now and it kills me. I watch England games and think ‘I could have been playing there’.
“I had one more cap than Wazza when I retired. I would have been there or thereabouts, so that kind of eats away.”
There were strong calls for Terry to make an England comeback ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the experienced stopper said he had to draw a line under his international career, even though he found a potential returning tempting.
He continued: “Definitely that [I had to draw a line under it].
“In the back of my mind, something was saying ‘come back, get to 100 caps — show a bit back at them’. When you have gone through everything as a player, you have been away with them, played with injections to get through games and to get turned over, it really saddens you.
“The fight inside me wanted to go back and play. I wanted to get to 100 caps because I would have been captain. They told me that I would never be captain again but if I got to 100 caps, you are captain. That was the mentality I had in every game I watched.”