Gabon goalkeeper Ovono retires from international football

Didier Ovono
Didier Ovono won 106 caps with Gabon over a 14 year period of international football.

Gabon goalkeeper Didier Ovono has announced his retirement from international football aged 34.

The K.V Oostende keeper won 106 caps over 14 years and was part of Gabon's Africa Cup of Nations squads in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2017.

Announcing his decision to the French news website Jeune Afrique, the Port-Gentil native said: "After 14 years as an international I think the time has come to step aside from the team, and allow younger players to come through.

"I have played at four Africa Cup of Nations finals and I have more than 100 caps. I have given a lot to my country, which has also given me a lot. It was an honour to play for Gabon."

Ovono was handed his international debut against Algeria in 2003 and was his country's first choice at four Nations Cup tournaments.

He admitted that his decision to represent Gabon at the 2017 tournament on home soil cost him his place at Belgian club Oostende - where he is out of contract at the end of the season.

"I don't have a club for next season, so my immediate priority right now is to find another team.

"I decided to play in the Nations Cup this year as it was unthinkable not to play this tournament with Gabon in my country.

"The officials of Oostende did not want me to go, but I went anyway. It happened that the other goalkeeper at Oostende [Silvio Proto] was injured.

"So the club signed another goalkeeper while I was away on international duty, which was logical.

"I returned from Gabon and went from number one to third choice; it was difficult and frustrating to watch the games from the bench or the stands.

"At 34 I think it will be impossible to make both my country and club happy, so at 34 it is better to retire and find a club where I can focus on a club career."

Ovono who began his professional career in Gabon has previously played in El Salvador, Portugal, Georgia and France.

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