Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa: Diego Costa clash ended my Spain career
Real Madrid full-back Alvaro Arbeloa has said his Spain career was brought to an abrupt end due to a clash with Diego Costa during a derbi match against Atletico Madrid two years ago.
Arbeloa, 33, won 56 caps for Spain and was part of the squads that won the European Championship in 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
He started all La Roja's games during the 2012 tournament and remained first-choice for the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign, but he was not included in Vicente del Bosque's final squad for Brazil.
Del Bosque had said he was unhappy with clashes that occurred during Real's 3-0 Copa del Rey semifinal first leg win over Atletico in February 2014, when TV pictures showed Arbeloa standing on Costa's ankle.
Brazil-born Costa, now with Chelsea, had pledged his allegiance to Spain prior to the incident and was ultimately included in the World Cup squad, while Arbeloa has not represented his country since.
"I played all the qualifiers for the last World Cup," Arbeloa told website La Galerna. "Of eight, I started six.
"I stopped being called up after what happened with Diego Costa. It was hard, it hurt me. Despite how it went, I would have liked to go [to the 2014 World Cup]. Only Vicente del Bosque knows the truth. It was a disappointment, but also in a way a relief."
Arbeloa had also previously been involved in clashes with Barcelona players during heated Clasicos during Jose Mourinho's time as coach at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, and had fallen out with Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas during that time.
The former Liverpool right-back was asked if Mourinho, who has been tipped to take over at Manchester United this summer, could return to Madrid in the future.
Arbeloa replied: "I have said before 'Why not?' -- although I did not say it would happen tomorrow.
"For Jose to return, for sure some time would have to pass. I hope Zizou [current Real coach Zinedine Zidane] can be here some years, but I believe in [Mourinho's] future could be a return. I still speak with him a lot."
Mourinho's time at the Bernabeu brought splits in both the dressing-room and among fans, even if Arbeloa has previously claimed Mourinho had a better relationship with the squad than had been suggested.
Arbeloa said his former boss had simply highlighted unfair treatment from local authorities and media, and questioned the club's self-image of "senorismo" -- referring to good manners and respectful behaviour.
"[Mourinho] opened the eyes of a good part of madridismo," he said in reference to those associated with the club. "There is a lot of talk about 'senorismo' but why should this just refer to Madrid? Jose saw things with the referees, with the match calendars -- things that were not coherent -- and the stuff with the media, of course."
Arbeloa suggested the current team was too nice and too willing to accept things that went against them, recalling an incident recently in a 2-1 win over Granada when midfielder Luka Modric was impeded accidentally by the referee and their opponents took advantage to score.
"Granada equalised due to the referee's bad positioning, and the ball ended up going straight to our opponents," he said. "I told Luka we should have complained to the referee. That goal could have cost us points.
"If it happened to another team, you have 11 players there calling the referee to account. We are missing that anger -- I don't say to pressure but to demand the referee do something.
"Around the club now complaining to the referee is not seen positively. We have a squad full of young guys, nice guys, but we could have more unity, to jump to the defence of our badge. Not doing that could be why we have just one won La Liga in many years -- and that was won by the man [Mourinho] who 'failed.' We are [now] a group of good professionals, but we must demand more."
Arbeloa's contract ends in June and he appears set to leave as he has yet to feature under Zidane, but he hopes he can end his Bernabeu career on a high.
"We're in February, I don't know where I'll be in July," Arbeloa said. "I have three months left at Madrid and I will try and make the most of the team. I would like to say goodbye winning something."