Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has announced his retirement from international football.
The 32-year-old was a member of the Spain squads which won the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and UEFA EURO 2008 and 2012 during a sustained period of dominance – but that run came to an end with this year’s World Cup in Brazil as La Roja were dumped out before the group stages had even concluded.
Alonso, who made his Spain debut in April 2003 as a 21-year-old, retires with 114 caps to his name.
“The most difficult thing is know when to say goodbye and, after giving it a lot of thought, I believe that moment has come,” Alonso added. “I have had a glorious time with Spain that started more than 11 years ago, including me forming part of an historic generation which realised the dream of millions of fans, achieving the unique feat of winning the World Cup and two European Championships in four years.
“I want to thank all my coaches, team-mates and the fans who have always shown me great love and respect. Inaki Saez, the unforgettable Luis Aragones and Vicente del Bosque are people who have helped me improve in the right way both professionally and personally.
“I can’t count all the team-mates with whom I’ve worn this shirt, but I want to thank each and every one for all they have taught me during this unforgettable stage of my life.”
Alonso also took a moment to thank the Spanish Football Federation and the three clubs where he has spent his senior career: Real Sociedad, Liverpool and Real Madrid.
“Finally, I want to convey my sincere thanks to the fans,” he added. “We shared the same dreams and enjoyed the glory together.
“I have experienced many unforgettable moments and you guys have been the protagonists. I want to wish luck to everybody who continues to fight for this shirt, holding the absolute conviction that we will experience glory once again.”
Current Spain coach Del Bosque highlighted the importance of Alonso to the nation’s recent triumphs. He told sefutbol.com:
“It’s very difficult to improve on what he has done. Together with his peers, he leaves behind a great legacy. He has been a great professional. The coaching staff and I hold him in great esteem and his behaviour has been impeccable for all this time.”