Shay Given has retired as Ireland goalkeeper – amid suggestions of a row with boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
The Donegal legend announced his decision to quit on Twitter late on Monday.
He made his decision public just hours before the Irish squad prepared to fly to Serbia for Wednesday’s friendly.
The news came as a shock to manager Trapattoni who had suggested on Sunday that Given and his fellow Irish veterans would stay on.
Some pundits have speculated that Given was annoyed at the fact that he wasn’t properly consulted when Trapattoni left him out of the squad to play Serbia.
The Italian claimed that the likes of Given, Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne were happy to miss Wednesday’s friendly.
But sources close to the players are adamant they were never contacted personally by the manager before he left them out.
Now Given has called time on his Irish career and there are real fears that others will follow his lead after the Euro 2012 disappointment.
His announcement brings to an end an international career that began against Russia in 1996 and saw Given become Ireland’s most capped player with 120 appearances, the last against Italy at the Euros.
Now 36 and first choice with Aston Villa, Given tweeted: “After a lot of thought and consideration, I have made the most difficult decision to retire from international football.
“It’s been a great honour and privilege to play and on occasion captain the team. I shall remain a huge fan of the team as I have been all my life and I wish them every success for the future.
“I wish to thank all the players, managers, staff and most importantly the most wonderful fans in the world.
“Finally I would like to thank my wife Jane, my two amazing kids and my entire family for their unwavering support over the 16 years and 125 caps.”
In a statement issued by the FAI on Monday night, Given added: “This has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make. I have dedicated 16 years of my life to my country, and I have a great affinity with Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad.
“I’d like to thank Giovanni, Marco and Alan Kelly for their support during my time with the team. I will continue to be Ireland’s biggest fan and wish the lads well as they embark upon their new campaign.”
The statement also said that Given would be available to the Irish team in an emergency situation.
Manager Trapattoni said: “I understand the difficult decision that Shay had to make and appreciate all of his efforts during his international career.
“He is a strong player, with a great character and his love of playing for his country always shone through. It has been a pleasure to work with him during my time with the team. I wish him the very best in his future.”