efe-epaPanama City

Panamanian striker Luis Tejada confirmed prior to a national-team training session that he would retire from international play after the Canaleros' (Canal Men's) maiden World Cup appearance.

The player for Peruvian club Sport Boys told reporters Friday that he had made the decision because there are a lot of young players waiting in the wings.

Tejada, the top scorer in the history of Panama's national team (43 goals), had already told EFE in an interview earlier this month that he would be wrapping up his international career after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"I'm retiring. I talked to my wife and I told her that my greatest gift from God was to be around when Panama qualified for a World Cup. I'm realistic. There are a lot of young players coming up who are doing the right things and are waiting for us to step aside," the 36-year-old Tejada, nicknamed "Matador" for his goal-scoring prowess, said.

He added, however, that he would continue to compete in the Peruvian league.

"After the World Cup, I'll say thank you for everything. But I'll continue on at my club because in Peru they want me to keep going until I'm 50," the veteran striker joked.

He said the Peruvian players were focused on enjoying the World Cup, "without forgetting that they have to go out and compete."

"We're going to play against strong, world-class sides, players at the highest level, but when you take the field you forget about all that. We're aware of our reality, but we're going to enjoy it while keeping in mind that we have to compete and bring joy to the Panamanian people," Tejada said.

Tejada and his national-squad teammates on Friday completed their 10th day of training for the World Cup, which kicks off on June 14.

Panama also will test its readiness with a pair of friendlies over the next two weeks: a send-off game against Northern Ireland on Tuesday in Panama City and a second friendly on June 6 against Norway in Oslo.

The Central American nation has been drawn into the World Cup's Group G along with Belgium, England and Tunisia.