Sierra Leone's longest serving player Julius Gibrilla Woobay, has retired from international football with immediate effect- the decision coming after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) disqualified his team from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Woobay while speaking with the BBC described the decision by CAF as sad and intimated that he had wanted to leave on a high as it was his last opportunity to help his team.
"It's really sad that I'll end my career at a time when we've been disqualified from the Nations Cup qualifiers due to the Fifa suspension. I wanted to end my career on a high note by qualifying my country to the Nations Cup finals. This was the last opportunity I had to do so,” he said.
The attacking midfielder who started his career as a left back has been with the national team for 17 years and made his international debut in 2001 in their 1-0 win over Nigeria; the tie being a 2002 World Cup qualifier in Freetown.
He went on to make over 40 appearances and scored two goals including one against Kenya in Freetown last year-a match which Caf has now annulled.
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On his decision, the player feels it was now time to hand over the mantle to the younger generation who he advised to give their best for the country; his only regrets being not featuring in the continental showpiece.
"I have served my national team for 17 years and I think I have done enough. I'm now giving way to the younger players in the team and my advice to them is to always give out their best for their country. I had good moments with the national team as we won matches and I scored goals. But I regret not playing the Nations Cup finals which would have been the best moment of my international career," Woobay added.
Woobay played for the national team alongside former captains Mohamed Kallon, Lamin Conteh and Mohamed Kanu as well as the current Leone Stars coach John Keister. A former Under-17 international, Woobay started his club football with local club East End Lions before moving to Europe where he played for clubs in Cyprus, Romania, Azerbaijan and Slovenia.
The midfielder has been without a club since his one year contract with Slovenia club Olimpija Ljubljana expired at the end of 2016.