Former Aston Villa right-back Alan Hutton made exactly 50 appearances for Scotland. The 34-year-old played with Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie in a handful of those games.
On Monday, it was revealed that Matt Ritchie has retired from playing international football. He cited spending more time with his family and maintaining fitness for Newcastle as the reasons for his decision.
Speaking to Football Insider, Hutton commented on Ritchie’s retirement decision:
“I’ve obviously played alongside him, I think he’s a fantastic player. So much energy, willing runner, run through a brick wall for you and quality so I know what he can give.
“He obviously feels he’s a bit unloved when he goes up there, he doesn’t play all the time. Maybe he feels he can offer more but he feels he’s not getting the chance.
“When you get to a certain age, then you start thinking: ‘What am I going to put forward? I’ve got my family here, I’ve got Scotland there, I’m not really playing there so I’d rather use the days for X, Y and Z.’
“I did the same thing so I’m not going to sit here and say he made the wrong decision, but I think when you start to get to that age, that’s the way you start thinking.”
Ritchie last played for Scotland in March of 2018. Last November, he informed then Scotland manager Alex McLeish that he would not be in consideration internationally for the foreseeable future.
Recently, current Scotland manager Steve Clarke reached out to the 30-year-old to check on his international status. It was at that time that Ritchie officially retired from international football.
Alan Hutton made the same decision in 2016 when he was 31, so he understands the reasons behind Ritchie’s decision. However, it is interesting that Alan speaks about Matt being unloved and not featuring as much as he would have liked.
In the end, Matt only made sixteen appearances internationally. Fourteen of those were in his first year and a half since making his debut in 2015. He has only made two appearances in the last three years.
Despite the interest from Scotland’s new manager, Ritchie seems to have made a wise decision to call it a career internationally. His focus will now be on making his return for Newcastle, where he has not played since suffering his ankle injury in August.
He has had few setbacks in his road back to full fitness. Hopefully, he will be available for selection during Newcastle’s busy December schedule.