John Terry has sensationally ended his England career.
One of the most divisive international stars of all time said he had taken the decision on the eve of his Football Association improper conduct hearing because his position with England was now "untenable".
The move is a major blow to manager Roy Hodgson, as well as being somewhat embarrassing as he had continued to stand by Terry throughout the racism storm that erupted over a clash with Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road last October.
Hodgson selected Terry for Euro 2012 prior to a court case, at which the 31-year-old was found not guilty.
He then chose Terry for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine even though the FA had continued their own action against him.
Yet, whilst Hodgson clearly felt the Chelsea man still had a role to play, Terry no longer feels it is possible.
"I am today announcing my retirement from international football," said a statement issued by Terry on Sunday evening.
"I would like to thank the England managers who have selected me for my 78 caps.
"I have had great pleasure in sharing that honour with all the players that I've played with.
"I would like to thank them, the fans and my family for their support and encouragement during my international career.
"Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour. I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision. I want to wish Roy and the team every success for the future.
"I am making this statement today in advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge because I feel The FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.
"I now look forward to playing for Chelsea FC, and challenging for domestic and European honours, and I want to thank the fans and the club for their continued support."
Whilst plenty will lament Terry's decision to abandon the national cause, others are bound to feel it is the correct move.
Having made his debut for England in 2003, within three years Terry had been confirmed as Three Lions skipper by Steve McClaren.
He then emerged as Fabio Capello's choice as well, although it was under the Italian that Terry became embroiled in so much controversy.
An alleged affair with French model Vanessa Perroncel - a former partner of team-mate Wayne Bridge - led to Capello stripping Terry of the captain's armband for the first time in February 2010, depriving him of the opportunity to lead his country at that summer's World Cup in South Africa.
Yet it did not stop Terry launching a one-man mutiny following the tepid draw with Algeria in Cape Town, when he challenged Capello's authority with a public demand for the austere regime to be relaxed.
Capello quickly slapped Terry down and reasserted his authority.
The Italian remained a huge Terry fan though and after an embarrassing charade in Denmark in February 2011, when the captain's armband was tossed around the team despite him being on the pitch, Capello decided to reinstate the centre-half.
Typically though, further controversy was not far away.
The nature of Terry's clash with Ferdinand led many to question whether this was the right behaviour for an England captain.
Many felt not, including FA chairman David Bernstein, who stripped Terry of the armband without telling Capello.
The Italian, furious, resigned and it was notable he had a lengthy conversation with Terry in Munich, immediately before this year's Champions League final, for which the Chelsea man was suspended.
Now Hodgson is left to pick up the pieces and fashion a World Cup qualifying campaign without a major component of his defence.
Meanwhile Terry. facing a much lower burden of proof, must attempt to clear his name one final time.
His delegation will be led by George Carter-Stephenson QC - who successfully defended Terry in court - and are said to be ready to argue that his acquittal in a criminal trial means the FA case cannot proceed.
That would involved citing FA rule 6.8, which governs disciplinary hearings and states that the results of relevant civil or criminal proceedings are "presumed to be correct and the facts presumed to be true" by FA commissions.
The FA will doubtless insist their charge against Terry is distinct from the racially-aggravated public order offence from which he was cleared in July.
Terry admitted in court saying "f****** black c***" but claimed it was used as part of a denial after he believed Ferdinand had accused him of using those words.
The panel who handed Liverpool striker Luis Suarez an eight-match ban when they found him guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra last season declared simply using racist language was enough to constitute a breach of FA rules.
John Tery factfile
1980: December 7 - born in London.
1991: Joins West Ham's youth set-up.
1995: Moves to Chelsea aged 14.
1998: October 28 - Makes Chelsea debut against Aston Villa.
2001: September - One of four players fined two weeks' wages by Chelsea after their behaviour at a Heathrow hotel is criticised on the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
2002: Terry and Chelsea team-mate Jody Morris are cleared after being charged with assault and affray in connection with a nightclub incident. Terry, uncapped at the time, is ruled out of the World Cup after the Football Association decide he should not be considered for international duty with England until the legal case is completed.
2003: June 3 - Makes England debut as substitute against Serbia and Montenegro.
2004: June 24 - Penalised for foul on Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo, denying Sol Campbell a winner in the Euro 2004 quarter-final.
August 15 - Appointed Chelsea captain, succeeding Marcel Desailly.
2006: August 10 - Chosen to replace David Beckham as England captain by head coach Steve McClaren.
November 30 - Charged with improper conduct by FA for comments about referee Graham Poll. Later admits charge and is reprimanded and fined £10,000.
2008: May 21 - Misses penalty in shoot-out against Manchester United which would have won Chelsea the Champions League.
August 19 - Named as permanent captain of England by Fabio Capello.
2009: December 20 - Chelsea defend Terry after allegations he took secret cash payments to lay on a behind-the-scenes tour of the club's training ground.
2010: January 29: Named as the sportsman behind a gagging injunction involving his private life. A court order had previously been in place, covering an alleged relationship between married Terry and French model Vanessa Perroncel - a former partner of team-mate Wayne Bridge.
February 5 - Axed as England captain following a meeting with Capello.
February 27 - Bridge refuses to shake Terry's hand before Chelsea's match with Manchester City.
2011: March 19 - Restored to the role of permanent England captain by Capello.
October 23 - Releases a statement denying he made a racist slur against Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's defeat at QPR after videos had circulated on the internet.
October 25 - Scotland Yard announce they are assessing allegations of racist abuse of Ferdinand by Terry after a complaint from the member of the public.
November 1 - The Metropolitan Police confirm they have launched a formal investigation.
November 5 - Capello confirms Terry will be selected for the friendlies against Spain and Sweden.
November 28 - Terry is interviewed under caution.
December 1 - Scotland Yard announce they have passed a file towards to prosecutors.
December 21 - The Crown Prosecution Service announce Terry will be charged with racially abusing Ferdinand and is due to appear before West London Magistrates' Court on February 1, 2012.
2012: January 28 - The FA cancels the pre-match handshakes before the FA Cup fourth-round tie between QPR and Chelsea "to defuse further tensions" relating to the Terry-Ferdinand situation.
February 1 - District Judge Howard Riddle orders that Terry should stand trial in the week beginning July 9 - following Euro 2012 - after hearing a number of other Chelsea players would not be able to appear as witnesses until the end of the football season.
February 3 - Terry is stripped of the England captaincy for a second time. The decision was taken by members of the 14-strong FA board, without consulting Capello.
February 8 - Capello resigns as England manager two days after criticising the decision to strip Terry of the captaincy.
April 18 - Terry captains Chelsea to a famous 1-0 victory over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final encounter at Stamford Bridge.
April 24 - Sent off in second leg against Barca at Nou Camp for inexplicably kneeing Alexis Sanchez from behind in the first half. But they go on to draw the game 2-2 and reach the final with a 3-2 aggregate score.
May 5 - Picks up his fifth FA Cup winners medal after Chelsea overcome Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley.
May 19 - Chelsea win their first Champions League after stunning Bayern Munich with a penalty shoot-out victory at the Allianz Arena. Terry, banned for the final for his red card against Barcelona, is ridiculed for changing into full kit at the final whistle to join in with the celebrations.
June 24 - Plays the full 90 minutes and extra time as England suffer more penalty heartache, losing their Euro 2012 quarter-final to Italy on penalties.
July 13 - Cleared at Westminster Magistrates' Court
of making a racist insult to Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's match against QPR in October last year.
July 27 - Charged by the FA with using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards QPR defender Ferdinand. It is further alleged that this included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Ferdinand. Terry denies the charge and requests a personal hearing.
August 30 - Recalled to England squad, after missing friendly against Sweden, for September's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
September 9 - Withdraws from England squad for Ukraine game after picking up ankle injury in 5-0 win in Moldova.
September 23 - Announces his retirement from international football, shortly before the start of his personal hearing to answer the FA charge.