Benedikt Hoewedes, a German World Cup winner, said on Friday that he is retiring aged 32 for family reasons.
He made 44 appearances for Germany at centre-back and full-back and played every minute on the way to triumph in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
He played more than 330 times for Schalke before spending the 2017-18 season on loan at Juventus and then moving to Lokomotiv Moscow for two seasons. The Russian club agreed to release Hoewedes from his contract in June.
“I was recently with my wife and son in a camper van in the south of France,” Hoewedes told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview published on Friday.
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“I noticed how happy I was to see my son next to me. Football seemed so unimportant.”
“My son is 21 months old and during my time in Moscow I wasn’t able to enjoy it. And I suffered from it,” he said.
“It’s difficult to take the plunge, to give up playing in front of sold-out stadiums. Maybe this period with the coronavirus and these ghostly matches was a harbinger.”
Hoewedes also criticised the “brutal” development of football, which “is moving further and further away from the fans”.
He is the seventh 2014 world champion to hang up his boots. Two weeks ago, former Borussia Dortmund player Andre Schuerrle surprisingly retired at the age of just 29.