Andres Iniesta has announced his retirement from international football following Spain’s World Cup exit to Russia on Sunday.
Iniesta surprisingly started as a substitute for the last-16 tie in Moscow, but despite coming on in the second half, the former Barcelona midfielder was unable to inspire his country to victory, with La Roja going down 4-3 on penalties.
“The reality is that this is my last match with the national team,” he said after the game.
“A wonderful stage has come to an end for me individually, but sometimes endings aren’t as you expect or dream. Overall, it’s probably the saddest day of my career.
“I’m leaving with a bad taste in my mouth, like everyone else. It’s a difficult moment that we’ve experienced on other occasions.
“We’re annoyed because we didn’t how to take the next step. Individually speaking, it wasn’t the best farewell, but it can happen in football and life.
“Starting as a sub? I didn’t feel singled out. The Coach decides whether you play or not. He understood that and it’s a shame that we didn’t go through. Penalties are cruel.
“The main culprits are always the players, so from there we all have our responsibilities, although it’s difficult to draw conclusions from this game.
“Moving forward? There’s some relief as the players are there. The important thing that we find the way to success, it’s not easy.
“It’s more complicated than it seems, but the national team will go on. We have players coming through who are good enough
“Lopetegui? It would be advantageous to talk about the fact that Lopetegul’s exit was a crucial factor.
“Everything has its importance, but ultimately it’s us who had the ball and we stayed.”
The 34-year-old made his Spain debut in May 2006 and went on to appear 133 times for his nation, scoring 13 goals – one of which was the winner in the 2010 World Cup Final.
It comes less than two months after he ended a career-long association with Barca and signed for Japanese club Vissel Kobe.