Turkey captain Arda Turan announced his retirement from international football on Tuesday, hours after being kicked out of a training camp by coach Fatih Terim for allegedly verbally and physically abusing a journalist.
“I think the time has come…I am ending my career with the national team,” said the 30-year-old Barcelona midfielder, capped 96 times, at a brief press conference in Slovenia, broadcast on Turkish television.
Turan had been told to leave the Turkey team’s camp in Slovenia where they are preparing for a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Kosovo on Sunday, the daily Hürriyet and news channel NTV earlier reported.
He was reported to have lambasted veteran sports journalist Bilal Mese during a flight after a 0-0 friendly draw against Macedonia in Skopje on Monday.
Turan was furious at articles written during Euro 2016 which claimed the Barcelona winger had a falling out with Terim over player bonuses.
“What kind of a country is this? They allow you onto this plane. F*** those who allowed you onto this plane,” Turan reportedly ranted at Mese, calling him “shameless”.
Eyewitnesses claimed Turan grabbed Mese by the throat and was about to hit him when other players intervened.
“Do I feel remorse? No, I don’t feel any remorse. I am quite calm,” added Turan.
“I really love my country. I really love my flag. I have always said: “If that’s what you want, I will retire.”
Mese — a sports journalist since 1973 — has threatened to take legal action against Turan when he returns to Turkey, his newspaper Milliyet said.
“We strongly condemn this assault,” the Association of Sports Journalists of Turkey said in a statement.
“The fact that this assault was committed by the captain of our national side reinforces its seriousness.”