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Finland midfielder Perparim Hetemaj retires from international football

Chievo Verona midfielder Perparim Hetemaj has retired from international football after 49 games for the 'Eagle Owls', Finland's men's national team.

Perparim Hetemaj
Perparim Hetemaj Image: Lehtikuva

Chievo Verona midfielder Perparim Hetemaj has announced his retirement from international football after 49 games for the 'Eagle Owls', Finland's men's national team.

Finland's 31-year-old midfield dynamo, Perparim Hetemaj, has announced his retirement from international football.

The Chievo Verona player said that injuries had weighed on his mind, and he now wants to enjoy the final 3-4 years of his club career.

"My body isn't able to recover properly after international games," explained Hetemaj. "My playing style is quite relentless. It's tough at this age to travel a lot after games, and the games are really tight."

Hetemaj played 49 times for the Eagle Owls, scoring four goals, and represented the Under-21 team 22 times. He also played in the 2009 European Under-21 championship, although the senior side never qualified for a major tournament.

Story continues after photo

Perparim Hetemaj (oik.)
Image: EPA

"If we'd have made it to the World Cup then sure I would have continued until the tournament," said Hetemaj. "But now we haven't made it, so in my opinion it's the right time to stop. The coaching staff now also have time to consider other options."

He said it was difficult to pick out a favourite moment, but a draw with world champions Spain in 2013 stood out. The 1-1 result was christened the 'miracle of Gijón' by success-starved Finnish football fans.

"The best moment was every single second," said Hetemaj. "I can't pick out one, but the best feeling was after the Spain game. And of course every match we won, and the celebrations."

On Tuesday he told Helsingin Sanomat that he wanted to win a Finnish championship before he retired altogether, hinting that at some point he may return to HJK Helsinki where he started his career.

Hetemaj hit the headlines in this qualifying campaign when Kosovo, the country of his birth, were granted permission to play in the World Cup.

Their first official competitive match was a World Cup qualifier in Turku against Finland, and Hetemaj was asked if he wanted to represent them. He declined to switch allegiance, but said he didn't want to play against the Kosovo team. Finland drew that match 1-1.

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