Turkey captain Arda Turan has announced his retirement from international football after he allegedly abused a journalist on the Turkish team’s plane.
The 30-year-old Barcelona midfielder was reported to have verbally and physically abused Bilal Mese on a flight following a friendly against Macedonia in Skopje on Monday.
Turan was kicked out of a training camp in Slovenia on Tuesday and quit the national team hours later.
“I think the time has come,” he said.
“I am ending my career with the national team.”
Turan, who has played 96 times for Turkey, reportedly approached the journalist from Turkish newspaper Milliyet before take-off about a story he had published on a pay dispute at Euro 2016.
Turan reportedly ranted at Mese, calling him “shameless” and eyewitnesses claimed he grabbed the journalist by the throat and had to be restrained by his team-mates.
Turan added that he felt “no remorse” and was “quite calm”.
“I really love my country. I really love my flag. I have always said if that’s what you want, I will retire,” he added at a media conference in Slovenia on Tuesday.
Mese, who has been a sports journalist since 1973, has threatened to take legal action against Turan when he returns to Turkey, his newspaper 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.”
Turkey face Kosovo in a 2018 World Cup qualifier on Sunday.