Liga - Xavi quits Spain but stays at Barcelona

Spain's greatest ever midfielder Xavi has announced his retirement from international football.

Eurosport
Liga - Xavi quits Spain but stays at Barcelona
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Xavi Hernandez of Spain kisses the World Cup as he collects his medal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain

Xavi, 34, won 133 caps for Spain but lost his starting place during their disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil as Vicente del Bosque's side exited the competition after just two games.

More than any other player, though, the Barcelona midfielder has embodied the possession-based philosophy of tiki-taka which took Spain to glory at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

[MITTEN: IS XAVI'S REIGN COMING TO AN END?]

Xavi played a central role in each victory, monopolising possession with unrivalled pass-completion statistics and allowing Spain to win game after game in the international arena.

"I've taken the decision to leave the national team. My time there has finished," said Xavi. "I'm grateful for all those years. It has been a fantastic time. I'm not 20 any more, but I still have the motivation of a kid.

"I was going to retire after Euro 2012 but head coach Vicente Del Bosque persuaded me to stay on and go to Brazil, which was of course a huge disappointment for everyone and myself individually.

"After Euro 2012, it was generally understood I was going to be leaving after Brazil 2014. I hope Del Bosque stays as manager of Spain because I don't think there is a better man for the job."

Long-time international team-mate Xabi Alonso is also reported to be considering his future with Spain.

Though Xavi is quitting Spain, he is staying at Barcelona. Speculation had been rife that he would move away from Camp Nou, and Xavi told a press conference that he had indeed decided to quit the Catalan club. But he added that he has now reversed that decision - a choice not made public at the time - and will stay put at the club where he has been for his entire career.

The seven-time Liga winner and three-time Champions League winner says he was convinced to extend his career at Camp Nou after discussions with new coach Luis Enrique - a former team-mate.

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Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona looks on during a FC Barcelona training session at Ciutat Esportiva de Sant Joan …

"I thank the club for being so patient and letting me think over my situation over the summer," he said. "I'm happy that the club has faith in me and wants me to see out my contract. Having spoken to the coaches, they've made me feel competitive and useful.

"My contract is for two years so nothing changes. I think I made a rash decision to [consider leaving] the club and changed my mind. I wish to apologise and thank everyone."

OUR VIEW

No one did more to establish Spain as football's pre-eminent team and impose tiki-taka as the prevailing orthodoxy than Xavi, who quits the national side as the most influential player ever to wear the red of La Roja. Not only did he excel on the pitch, his close relationship with captain Iker Casillas also helped to heal rifts caused by numerous Clasicos as Spain put aside their club rivalries to become arguably the greatest international side ever assembled. A legend has departed the stage.

THE VIEW FROM SPAIN

Jose Manuel Antequera, Eurosport Spain: "He quits because of his age and physically he is no longer in the best condition. Remember that Xavi was ready a few days ago to go to America or Qatar. Unfortunately, Xavi has no successor because he is a unique player. Iniesta is the only one who can do such work."

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