Switzerland forwards retire from internationals

BY foxsports • April 5, 2011

Switzerland forwards Alex Frei and Marco Streller retired from international football on Tuesday and said constant criticism from fans was a factor.

The FC Basel teammates' decisions denies them the chance to face England at Wembley in a 2012 European Championship qualifier on June 4.

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said he regretted the choice which the players said they came to after careful thought.

''On a personal level, I understand their reasons. Now we have a decisive match in England and I must plan differently,'' Hitzfeld said in a Swiss football federation statement.

Frei previously said he would stop after facing England having already refused to play further home matches because of jeering and abuse.

''I can say with a clear conscience that I've always tried to give my best,'' said Frei, who is Switzerland's all-time leading scorer with 42 goals in 84 appearances.

The 31-year-old Frei played at two World Cups and two European Championships, but leaves after a tame 0-0 draw in Bulgaria last month that left Switzerland unlikely to qualify for Euro 2012.

Streller scored 12 goals in 37 international matches but had to pull out of Hitzfeld's squad for the World Cup in South Africa last year through injury.

The 29-year-old target man wished the national side's young players well and ''to have the support of the fans even during difficult times.''

Hitzfeld could now turn to two strikers who play in the Bundesliga: 22-year-old Eren Derdiyok at Bayer Leverkusen, who scored on his Swiss debut at Wembley in 2008; and 21-year-old Mario Gavranovic, the Schalke forward who made his debut against Bulgaria.

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