International Sport > Spanish Football > INIESTA RETIRES AFTER SPAIN PENALTY HEARTBREAK

INIESTA RETIRES AFTER SPAIN PENALTY HEARTBREAK

Andres Iniesta has announced that he will retire from international football after seeing Spain crash out of the World Cup at the hands of Russia.

Iniesta started Sunday's last-16 game on the bench as coach Fernando Hierro opted to rest the Barcelona legend.

But, with Spain failing to break down a determined Russia backline, Iniesta was drafted in after 67 minutes and subsequently converted his penalty in the shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.

Koke and Iago Aspas then both failed in the shoot-out, marking a disappointing end to the midfielder's glorious Spain career.

"It's a reality that this is my last game with the national team, on a wonderful stage," Iniesta told reporters after the defeat.

"A marvellous spell is over. Sometimes the end is not as you dreamed it.

"The national team will continue to be successful because of the level of players we have and that is what they should try."

Julen Lopetegui's dismissal on the eve of the tournament undoubtedly unsettled Spain, but Iniesta insisted the players have no excuse for not overcoming the hosts.

"It would be an advantage to say that Lopetegui's thing has to do with the result, in the end those of us who have the ball are the players," he continued.

"The main culprits in football are the players that are the ones on the field."

Iniesta played a total of 131 times for Spain, scoring on 13 occasions in national team colours

His place in Roja folklore was assured in 2010 upon hitting the winning goal in the World Cup final against Netherlands, while he also lifted European Championship titles in 2008 and 2012.

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