Zimbabwe and Kaizer Chiefs forward Khama Billiat has announced his retirement from international football at the age of 31.
Billiat captained the Zimbabwe Warriors in their last two 2022 World Cup qualifiers in which they lost 1-0 to South Africa in Johannesburg last Thursday and before drawing one-all against Ethiopia in Harare on Sunday.
And with the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations of the horizon in two months, many expected Billiat to use the continental showpiece event as his international swansong.
In an emotional letter posted on his social media pages he thanked his fellow Zimbabweans and national team members for the support they have shown him throughout the years, stating that it’s now time to pave way for new talent to serve Zimbabwe the same way he did during his nine-year period with the senior national team.
“I have decided to retire from international football. I believe now is the time for me to pave way for new talent to blossom and serve the country in the same way I did, or even better,” read part of his statement.
“I will forever be indebted to those who took a chance on me and moulded me into the international player I grew to become. Thank you Zimbabwe for supporting me and my teammates, for showing me love with each outing,” he added.
The former Mamelodi Sundowns player made his senior national team debut against Mali in a Africa Cup of Nations qualifier back in 2011.
He has gone on to represent the Warriors at the continental showpiece twice in 2017 and 2019.
The Aces Youth Soccer Academy graduate has made 46 appearances – scoring 17 goals – since making his debut under Norman Mapeza a decade ago.
Zimbabwe’s dismal run of poor form in the World Cup qualifiers may have fast-tracked Billiat’s decision. But it’s a significant blow to Zimbabwe ahead of the Afcon finals in Cameroon early next year.