The Socceroos have lost the final link to Australia’s ‘golden generation’ with captain Mark Milligan announcing his international retirement.
One of just two Australians to make four World Cup squads along with Tim Cahill, the 34-year-old told teammates and staff on Monday he was calling time on his Socceroos career.
Milligan debuted for Australia in a friendly against Liechtenstein in June 2006 and went on to make 80 appearances for his country.
A member of Australia’s 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cup squads, Milligan also played at three Asian Cups including the successful 2015 tournament on home soil.
“It has been a privilege to be involved with the Socceroos over the last 14-odd years,” Milligan said.
To be able to represent my country over that time is above and beyond anything I could have dreamed of.
“It hasn’t always been smooth sailing – it was always going to be difficult to try and break into a squad full of Australian superstars. But I was given a chance, and just to be involved with players from Australia’s golden generation and learn my trade from them was an absolute gift that I will be forever grateful for.”
Milligan was appointed Socceroos captain by Graham Arnold following Mile Jedinak’s retirement after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
He led Australia at this year’s Asian Cup in January but has barely played for his country since that tournament due to niggling injury problems.
Forced to pull out of the squads to play Kuwait and Jordan in World Cup qualifiers due to injury, Milligan’s last national team appearance was the 5-0 win over Nepal in Canberra in October.
In his absence Mathew Leckie led the team against Kuwait while goalkeeper Mat Ryan has taken up the armband in the team’s past two qualifiers against Taiwan and Jordan.
Arnold said Milligan’s unstinting service to the national team, which included the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, should ensure he is remembered as a Socceroos great.
“I am so proud of Mark and the career that he has had,” Arnold said.
“Mark’s commitment and desire for Australian football is up there with the best and I feel privileged to have been involved with him at the start and end of his international career.”
Milligan will continue to play for English League One club Southend United, who he joined in July after being released by Scottish Premiership team Hibernian.