SOUTHEND United midfielder Mark Milligan has announced his retirement from international football.

The 34-year-old won 80 caps for Australia and was selected in four Socceroos’ World Cup squads.

Milligan has now opted to concentrate on his club career but he remains proud to have represented his country for so long.

“It has been a privilege to be involved with the Socceroos over the last 14-odd years,” said Milligan.

“To be able to represent my country over that time is above and beyond anything I could have dreamed of.”

However, Milligan did experience ups and downs playing for Australia.

“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,” said Milligan.

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.

“I was lucky to work under some wonderful coaches in my international career too and I wish the boys the best of luck going forward.

“There are exciting times ahead and I look forward to supporting the team along with the rest of the country.”

Milligan, who joined the Shrimpers in the summer, also skippered his country on 19 occasions.

And Socceroos head Coach Graham Arnold was quick to praise Milligan’s contribution.

“I am so proud of Mark and the career that he has had,” said Arnold.

“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.”

“Not many players can claim to have represented Australia at four World Cups, three Asian Cups, a Confederations Cup, as well as an Olympic Games.

“When you add in his tremendous club career, which includes two Hyundai A-League Championships, a Premiership, and a Joe Marston Medal, it is clear that Mark’s contribution to Australian football over a long period has been significant.”

Milligan has made 19 appearances for the Shrimpers so far this season after being snapped up by previous manager Kevin Bond following his departure from Hibernian.

The midfielder was named club captain by Bond but lost the armband following the arrival of Sol Campbell who opted to make Timothee Dieng the Shrimpers skipper.