Andrè Schembri has announced that the UEFA Nations League Group D3 matches against Kosovo (November 17) and Faroe Islands (November 20) at the National Stadium will be his last for the national team.
The 32-year-old forward informed Malta coach Ray Farrugia and the Association’s top officials of his decision upon reporting for training with the national squad on Monday evening.
“The UEFA Nations League matches against Kosovo and Faroe Islands will be my last for the national team,” Schembri said.
“I feel the time has come to bow out.
“There are several promising youngsters coming through and we need to give them the space to fulfil their potential and gain more experience at international level.”
Schembri said the decision to call time on his national team career was not taken lightly.
“I have taken this decision after a long reflection and following discussions with my family,” the Apollon Limassol forward said.
“I have been part of the national team set-up for 20 years as I started out at the age of 13.
“I want to keep playing at club level for a few more years and there comes a time in your career when you have to weigh up things and prioritise.
“I’m 32, I’ve always given my all for the national team but the time has come for me to close this exciting chapter.
“It has been an incredible journey.
“I have always been immensely proud to represent my country and I will be more than willing to give my contribution to Maltese football in a different capacity in the future.”
Although Schembri will soon make his final bow in a national team’s shirt, he is eager to help Malta wrap up their UEFA Nations League group commitments with a flourish.
“My focus is on these two important matches against Kosovo and Faroe Islands,” Schembri said.
“We are playing at home and we will be doing our utmost to obtain positive results and conclude our UEFA Nations League campaign on a bright note.”
Regarded as one of the best Maltese players of his generation, Schembri made his senior Malta debut in the friendly match against Japan on June 4, 2006. He has scored three goals in 92 appearances.
While thanking the Association for its support throughout the years, Schembri said: “I will always be Malta’s no.1 fan.”
Malta coach Ray Farrugia paid tribute to Schembri’s contribution to the national team.
“It’s always sad when a player decides to retire from international football but I respect Andrè’s decision,” Farrugia said.
“He has been a great ambassador for the national team and Maltese football, an inspiration to the young players who will be hoping to follow in his footsteps.
“The farewells can wait though.
“We have two important matches coming up and I’m sure Andrè will be fully focused and motivated to play to the maximum of his abilities and help the team like he has always done.”