All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston has today announced his retirement from international duty.
Having retired from the Wellington Phoenix at the end of last season, Paston had left the door open for the All Whites. But after taking a few months off and evaluating the situation he has decided to officially retire from international football.
"Since retiring from the Phoenix I haven't really missed playing football and that was a pretty good sign that it was time to move on," said Paston.
"I've been given an opportunity in a new career doing something that I enjoy and my energy is focused in that direction at the moment.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"A World Cup campaign takes a huge amount of time and energy and I feel if I can't give it the commitment it deserves then it's time to step aside."
Paston retires with the All Whites set to play the intercontinental playoff against the fourth-best team from North and Central America, with the winner advancing to Fifa World Cup Brazil in 2014.
The All Whites goalkeeping stocks are light on experience behind No 1 Glen Moss, and coach Ricki Herbert had hinted he would try to convince Paston to hang on for another World Cup campaign. Despite his own absence, Paston backed his former teammates to take their opportunity.
"I think they have a fantastic chance to qualify again," he said. "It's 180 minutes and who knows what can happen? The first leg is going to be very important, as it was against Bahrain. Get a good result away from home and they will always have a chance at home."
Paston retires with 35 'A' International caps for the All Whites after making his debut in September 1997 against Indonesia.
"The game against Bahrain was probably one of my favourite memories of playing in an All Whites shirt, along with the entire 2010 World Cup campaign. There's no one single moment that I would pick out, but that was a pretty special time in my career.
"I would like to say thank you to the fans and everyone that I have worked with over the years. It hasn't always gone well for me with injuries but I wouldn't have changed anything, so it's great to be able to say thank you very much."