Following a disappointing campaign with Austria at the 2016 European Championships in France, Leicester City left-back and Austrian captain Christian Fuchs is stepping away from international football. The 30-year-old totaled 78 senior caps for his country since his debut back in 2006 against Croatia, scoring his lone goal for Austria back in 2010 against Greece.
— ÖFB - oefb.at (@oefb1904) June 29, 2016
Fuchs' biggest impact on the squad came through his leadership on and off the pitch as captain, assuming the leadership role for the first time in a 2010 friendly against Switzerland and then on a full-time basis in 2012. He was part of Austria's 23-man roster that co-hosted the Euros alongside Switzerland in 2008, playing the full 90 minutes against future finalists Germany in the group stage.
Following a one-tournament hiatus for the Austrians at the Euros, Fuchs played every minute of Austria's almost perfect 2016 qualifying campaign (9W - 1D - 0L) and their eventual disappointing performance in the group stage, finishing behind the likes of Portugal and surprise underdogs Iceland in Group F.
In a tournament where Austria were viewed as strong dark horse candidates, Fuchs couldn't help his country through to what would have been their first trip to the knockout stages at the European Championships in the country's history.
Fuchs' announcement follows a string of high-profile international retirements in the past few days that include Argentina's Lionel Messi, Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Spain's Iker Casillas. Whether their reasons had been personal or political, the timing probably couldn't have come at a better time for the Austrian.
Fuchs has a wife and two children living across the pond in the United States and will be able to spend a lot more time with his family during a busy club schedule in 2016-17 with Leicester that will only get busier thanks to the addition of Champions League football.
For Austria tactics-wise, it likely means that David Alaba can slot into Fuchs' role at left-back, which is a much more familiar position for the Bayern Munich product. The 24-year-old was thrown into an Austrian midfield where he didn't have much of an impact for manager Marcel Koller's side.
Emotionally, Austria loses a guy who gave it his all every time he stepped on the pitch for his country and wasn't afraid to be vocal about his team's performances.
The announcement comes as a benefit for Leicester fans in Fuchs' future reduced schedule in a busy year next season and as an unfortunate early retirement for Austria. Despite still most likely having something left in the tank, 78 games is an admirable international career, and Austrian fans will celebrate him as a humble, honest captain who was always ready to represent his country to the highest regard.
Congratulations on a great international career with Austria, Cristian, and with a special season on the horizon with Leicester in 2016-17, you definitely won't have any shortage of big games to play.