Van Nistelrooy retires from Dutch nat'l team

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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- Netherlands striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has retired from international football.

Van Nistelrooy, 32, informed coach Bert van Marwijk that he wanted to concentrate fully on his role at Real Madrid.

"Given the physical effort you need to perform at this level, I had to make a choice,'' he said in a statement released by the Netherlands' Royal Soccer Association on Monday.

"The combination of Real Madrid's competition, cup and Champions League games on the one hand and the Netherlands team on the other, would be too heavy a burden for me.''

He said he had weighed the decision carefully. Van Nistelrooy made his first appearance for the Netherlands in 1998 at age 22 and went on to play in 64 games, scoring 33 goals.

Van Marwijk, who replaced Marco van Basten as Dutch coach after the European Championship, said he "regretted'' Van Nistelrooy's decision but respected it.

Van Nistelrooy said he was leaving with a good feeling after the tournament, in which the Netherlands beat the reigning World Cup champion Italy and the runner-up France easily in the first round before bowing out to Russia in the quarterfinals.