Barcelona legend Andreas Iniesta has announced his retirement from international football.
The 34-year-old’s decision to retire from the Spain squad came after the former champions were knocked out by hosts Russia at the ongoing FIFA World Cup tournament.
Russia defeated Spain 4-3 on penalties after both sides played out a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time and extra time.
Iniesta attained legendary status in Spanish football history when he scored the winning goal in extra time against the Netherlands to hand the country its only World Cup title at the 2010 edition in South Africa.
He was surprisingly left out of the starting XI against the Russians but he eventually came on as a second half substitute for Manchester City playmaker David Silva.
It was his 131st appearance for Spain and his last kick in the colours of the team was to successfully convert his spot kick during the penalty shootout.
While revealing his decision to retire from the Spanish setup, Iniesta said: “It is a reality that is my last match with the national team.”
“Sometimes the endings are not as one dreams.
“It is the saddest day of my career.” He added.
Spain boss Fernando Hierro called Iniesta “one of the greatest players in our history” while speaking about the playmaker.
“The way he played on the pitch when he substituted on was like he was playing in his first cap and I want to thank him whole-heartedly.” Hierro said.
Andreas Iniesta made his debut for Spain in 2006 and went on to play a major role as the Iberian nation won both the 2008 and 2012 European Championships aside from his landmark contribution to the 2010 World Cup triumph.
He ended his 22-year association with Spanish La Liga giants Barcelona this summer by moving to Japanese side Vissel Kobe.
Iniesta won 32 trophies and made 674 appearances for the Nou Camp outfit and five-time European champions.