Pepe Reina says he is “proud” of his Spanish international career despite having played second fiddle to Iker Casillas for most of it.
The Napoli goalkeeper, who is on a season-long loan from Liverpool, made his La Roja debut in 2005 and has since represented his country 29 times.
Having been a member of the squad that won the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, he is now just one step away from competing in a third World Cup in Brazil next year.
“There’s just one step left. It is a real privilege to play for Spain and it means I have been with the national team for a long time now.
“I’m proud to have been an active member of this team and, of course, of the three titles. It’s a great honour just to be called up,” he told Marca.
However, Reina admits that it has not all been plain sailing, particularly in the early days when the Spanish team and its style of play was still a work in progress.
“In 2006 we were still a team in the making, with courage and hope, and one that took a deserved battering from France.
“Then there was a period of growth and the search for our philosophy which we have stuck to unhesitatingly with humility and respect for every opponent.
“But I will never forget the training session that had to be suspended in Murcia because of all the insults and jeers after we lost to Sweden.
“We had hit rock bottom. It was ugly and uncomfortable but it helped bring us together and grow, although we’ve always been treated well in Murcia.
“It was an isolated incident. Spain is a country of extremes and there is no middle ground. In the blink of an eye things go from euphoria to failure and vice-versa.”
However, the 31-year-old claims he would not change anything and is looking forward to challenging Brazil in their own back yard once qualification is assured.
“It’s going to be tough. They have a very good team and the whole country will be behind them, but we’ve done our homework,” he declared.