Xavi Hernandez ends Spain career
Xavi Hernandez has announced his retirement from an international career that saw him win Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 for Spain.
The Barcelona midfielder confirmed at a news conference on Tuesday that he will focus on club football after deciding to prolong his stay at the Camp Nou.
"I think my time there [for Spain] has finished," he said. "I am happy to enter a new stage at Barca. I think that at the end of the season we will achieve things."
The 34-year-old quits La Furia Roja after earning 133 senior caps, the most for Spain as an outfield player and second only to goalkeeper and national team captain Iker Casillas, who has 156 caps.
Xavi played a key role in eras of unprecedented success for both club and country. He has won three Champions Leagues and seven La Liga titles with Barcelona and, alongside clubmate Andres Iniesta, formed the midfield base around which Spain's recent dominance was built.
His consistently accurate and incisive passing defined the "tiki-taka" style pioneered by former Spain coach Luis Aragones, which saw the national side claim their first major trophy for 44 years by winning the 2008 European Championship in Austria and Switzerland.
Under Aragones' successor, Vicente del Bosque, Xavi continued to pull the strings as Spain won their first World Cup in 2010 and then retained their European crown in Poland and Ukraine two years later.
He was named in the team of the tournament at all three competitions, and was named on the shortlist for the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 and the newly unified FIFA Ballon d'Or in each of the the following two years.
Xavi only made one appearance in Spain's calamitous defence of their World Cup crown in Brazil in June. He started their opening 5-1 defeat to Netherlands, but was dropped for the 2-0 defeat to Chile which sealed their exit from the competition at the group stage.
That disastrous campaign came after Barcelona had failed to retain their Spanish league title, losing out to Atletico Madrid in their final match of the season.
After that series of setbacks, Xavi admitted that he had considered leaving the club he had been with since he was a child, but was convinced to reject offers from clubs in MLS and the Middle East to stay in his native Catalonia.
"I finished the season with two disappointments and I abruptly decided to tell the club that I would be leaving at this stage," he told a news conference. "But they have convinced me that I can still be important for the club. I want to thank the patience of the club.
"[Coach] Luis Enrique is the key man to take this club forward. I have spoken with him three or four times this summer and I have good vibes.