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French defender Bixente Lizarazu has announced his retirement from international football.

The 34-year-old joins fellow defenders Marcel Desailly and Lilian Thuram in retiring from the French national team in the wake of their disappointing Euro 2004 campaign.

“I share with Lilian the idea that we must give our places to other players for 2006 (World Cup). It’s now up to them to take their responsibilities,” said Lizarazu, who will play for Marseille this season.

“You must have time and a lot of matches to reach the highest level and they will need this to reach maturity in two years time,” he told L’Equipe sports daily.

The 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner made his international debut in 1992 and went on to win 97 caps, scoring two goals.

Lizarazu joined Marseille this summer after spending seven years with Bayern Munich.

“Over the past seven years at Bayern, I have given 100 percent of my energy to the French team and my club,” he added. “Now I need more time for my personal life and my son.

“I feel relieved with this announcement. I’ve been thinking it over for a long time.

“These decisions are not taken easily.”

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