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‘It’s the saddest day of my career’: Iniesta

‘It’s the saddest day of my career’: Iniesta

MOSCOW, Jul 2: Andres Iniesta described Spain’s World Cup elimination on penalties on Sunday as the saddest day of his career as he confirmed his retirement from international football, reports Xinhua. Hosts Russia defeated the 2010 champions 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the scores were tied 1-1 at the end of extra time in their round of 16 duel. “It’s my last match with the national team,” said Iniesta, who left the Luzhniki Stadium pitch in tears. “It’s a shame we couldn’t go through. Penalties are cruel. The guilty ones are always the players and everyone of us is responsible.” The scorer of Spain’s winner against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final added: “At an individual level a great period has finished. Sometimes finals don’t go the way we hope or dream. Overall it’s probably the saddest day of my career. I leave with a bad taste in my mouth. It’s tough for everybody. On an individual level it hasn’t been the best farewell but football and life is like that.” Iniesta surprisingly began Sunday’s match on the bench but made an immediate impact after replacing David Silva in the 67th minute with his one-touch passing and clever runs into space. The 34-year-old also forced a lunging save from goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with a long-range shot five minutes from time. He coolly converted Spain’s first penalty attempt in the shootout before Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved shots from Koke and Iago Aspas. Sunday’s result capped a difficult tournament for Spain. The team’s World Cup plans were thrown into turmoil two days before their first match when coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked after it was revealed he had accepted a position to join Real Madrid. Iniesta said the players could not blame turbulence off the pitch for their failure to live up to expectations. Iniesta, who will play for Japanese side Vissel Kobe next season after ending his 22-year Barcelona career in May, is confident Spain can rebuild ahead of the next World Cup in Qatar. Earlier, after more than 130 caps and three major titles, including the 2010 World Cup, the former Barcelona midfielder has hung up his boots. 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, reports Goal.com. 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.

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