GARY McALLISTER has retired from international football, citing the churlish booing of him by Scotland fans during the 2-1 defeat by the Czech Republic last week as the reason for the decision after winning 57 caps for his country.
"Last week's result against the Czech Republic was a crescendo of a night which had a major bearing on my decision," the 34-year-old midfielder said.
The Scotland and Coventry captain broke the news to the national coach, Craig Brown, after taking a week to consider his decision. McAllister has decided to quit now after a decade in the Scotland side and concentrate on his club football rather than continue as a scapegoat.
The midfield playmaker was upset at the response to his comeback after missing out almost a year - including the World Cup finals - with a serious knee injury. His initial response was to retire after the Czech match, but he chose to take a few days to think over his future. A section of the Scotland fans have not forgiven him for missing a penalty against England in Euro 96, while some critics have also said he should be dropped.
"I am extremely disappointed because I know I am still good enough to play at international level and contribute something to the Scotland side," he said. "But there comes a point when that type of pressure from a certain section who are looking for me not to do well, whether that be the fans or in the media, becomes too much.
"It has been a difficult decision to make because it's every player's dream to play for his country and I came into international football relatively late in my career. To give up before my time is very disappointing indeed."
The Professional Footballers' Association urged McAllister to reconsider. Its deputy chief executive, Brendon Batson, says that he must continue if he feels he has something to give. "Obviously this is not a knee-jerk reaction. He has probably thought long and hard about it," Batson said.
"But if he feels he still has something to offer on the international stage then he shouldn't let a small section of the crowd sway him from what he is - a very good footballer.
"It is really sad that a player feels he has to retire prematurely for this reason. Gary has been a very good international player and has given excellent service to Scotland"
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