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Laurent Koscielny retires from French national team, burns bridge on the way out

The Arsenal defender doesn’t feel respected by France.

Atletico Madrid v Arsenal FC - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Second Leg

For any athlete, injury rehab can be a long, lonely process. You’re still a part of your club, technically, but since you’re repairing your body you’re not participating in all the daily drills, practice regimens, or any of the other team-focused stuff that comprises the day to day grind of being a professional athlete.

And when you’re working away, generally on your own, at making your body whole again and building your strength and endurance back up to competitive levels, it’s always nice to know that your team has your back, and that they haven’t forgotten about you while you’re over there on the side doing your thing.

Laurent Koscielny, as we know, is on one of those long arduous solo-ish rehab programs now, after his Achilles injury in the Europa League semifinal. He’s still on track to return to Arsenal before the end of 2018, I think, but he has announced that his time with the French national team is over, in large part because “lots of people disappointed him” during his recovery, from Didier Deschamps and the French management team on down:

“It feels like a hit on the back of the head,” he said. “When you are in good form, you have lots of friends. When you are injured... after a certain period of time, you are forgotten about. [Deschamps] called me once for my birthday in September. Otherwise, no. Lots of people disappointed me. Not only the coach.”

Athletes, for all their mental toughness, can be a sensitive bunch. When you spend your whole life being the center of attention and the nexus of all the activity around you, it’s hard to not be that; if that manifests itself in a 33 year old retiring from his national team because they didn’t pay him enough attention, that’s all to the good as far as I’m concerned, because that’s that much more energy he can give to Arsenal for the remainder of his career.