Roy Hodgson claims Rio Ferdinand has been left out England's Euro 2012 squad for football reasons and has justified his inclusion of John Terry.
The new coach of the Three Lions named his 23-man squad for this summer's European Championship on Wednesday, and Manchester United defender Ferdinand was a notable absentee.
The 33-year-old has won 81 caps for his country and has been a regular part of the international set-up for 15 years.
It would, however, appear that his England career has now been brought to an end.
Hodgson insists he made the tough decision to overlook the former national captain based purely on his track record in recent years and hopes Ferdinand will understand his reasoning.
"It was purely a footballing decision," he told Sky Sports News HD.
"Rio is a man that I both respect as a player and as a person. I don't know him well personally, but I have seen enough of him over the years to realise what a fine footballer he is and what a good person he is.
"But I had to make a footballing decision and to decide on the basis of what I have seen in recent months, and it was influenced to some extent by the fact that Rio hasn't played so much since the World Cup and has only played once for England in the last year.
"On a footballing basis, I wanted people like (Phil) Jones in the squad because he helps balance out for me at right-back in the absence of Kyle Walker.
"So it's purely a footballing decision and it was a hard phone call to make because you hate to disappoint people, but I hope Rio can accept my decision and understand that it was based purely on football and nothing else."
Hodgson claims his decision to overlook Ferdinand had nothing to do with the ongoing race-row involving his brother Anton and Chelsea captain John Terry, who has made the cut.
He added: "I have spoken to both of them, I had to do that. I left the decision to talk to both of them until after the final game of the season because there may not have been a need to talk to either of them because there might have been an injury or whatever. But in the last couple of days I have spoken to both of them and explained to them why I came to this decision."
Terry, who denies any wrongdoing, is not due in court until 9th July - after Euro 2012 comes to an end - and Hodgson is confident the experienced centre-half will not be a disruptive presence in Ukraine and Poland.
He said: "If we take the court case first of all, that's obviously very unfortunate for him but at the moment we must emphasise that he is an innocent man until such time as proven guilty. As a result, my decision with John Terry was again based purely on footballing matters.
"I was given a free hand as to the squad I picked and I realised that when I selected him there would be people who raised their eyebrows, but that is the decision I have made and that's the decision I shall live with.
"I believe that John Terry, especially in the latter part of the season, has played very well. I know you are going to come back and say he shouldn't have done what he did in Barcelona, but I am looking over a longer period than that and I think he has played well.
"I think he has played an important part in Chelsea's FA Cup final victory and an important part in them reaching the Champions League final. Therefore, I selected him because I think he is the man for the job. I'm hoping and believing that he will help us win matches."