Xavi Hernandez has reflected on why he almost retired from international duty last summer and what made him reconsider.
The midfielder was talked out of hanging up his boots with La Roja during last summer’s successful European Championship campaign in Poland and Ukraine.
In coming out to Brazil with the team for this summer’s Confederations Cup, the 33-year-old sat down with El Pais, who asked if he still retains the same dreams for the sport as he did as a child.
“Yes, I think so, for I have continued with the national team,” considered Xavi in the interview released this week.
“I said to Del Bosque after the semi-final [of the European Championship last summer] that I wanted to leave, but I thought again and look where I am.
“Del Bosque asked if I was unhappy. ‘Did it give you blues?’ he asked. And it did not, I had thought it through, for a long time.
“And he said: ‘No, man, no, you have to go to the World Cup in Brazil, how can you not play there?’
“I said I would go on vacation to think and talk it through with family and friends, with my girlfriend and I saw clearly that if I retired, the first international without me would get me really down.
“It was because of the critics, rather than for personal feelings. I thought: ‘that’s enough, we’re playing well, we are in the Euro final and I keep hearing that I am bad and I’m doing wrong’.
“And I thought: ‘People have become tired of you. It’s time, Xavi’. But we won the European Championship, I thought about it and said: ‘You know what? I’m having fun, I am strong enough, I will continue, until the World Cup’.”
The midfielder has struggled with a persistent Achilles injury in recent seasons.
“I thought I would never walk normally. If not for Dr Ramon Cugat [specialist who has worked with Xavi] I would not be here.
“He returned me to my life. I was getting out of bed and could not set my foot on the ground. After the World Cup there were days I could not even stand up. I was bitter.
“So at the Euros I thought: ‘Look, if I retire and only play at Barca then instead of continuing until I’m 34, I could go until I’m 35’.
“But then I also saw that if I stopped then it would be worse. I go on vacation for two weeks, to disconnect and get going again.
“I’m getting old, but more than anything else there are many games. I’ve played 700 for Barca and nearly 125 for Spain. That is a lot…”