News: Andrés Iniesta ends Spain career: his greatness explained

Sunday 1 July 2018 21.00 CET

Andrés Iniesta has announced his retirement from international football after Spain's loss on penalties to Russia in their round of 16 tie at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The midfield metronome, who also departed Barcelona for Japanese side Vissel Kobe at the end of last season, stands down having won the UEFA European Championship in 2018 and 2012, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup. UEFA.com celebrates his brilliance.

On retiring

"It's true that this was my last match with the national team. On an individual level, it brings an end to a marvellous chapter of my life. It's a difficult moment, one we've experienced before, but we weren't capable of that little bit extra. My personal cycle ends here after a long time [playing for Spain], but everything has its beginning and end. It isn't the farewell I dreamed about, but football and life can be like that."

What they say

Appearance and goal tallies

International caps: 131 appearances, 13 goals
UEFA club competition: 138 appearances, 11 goals
Domestic competition: 530 appearances, 46 goals

Trophies

Claims to fame

• Won the UEFA European Under-16 Championship in 2001 before helping La Rojita lift the U19 title 12 months later.

• A mainstay in the national team, he was pivotal as Spain won a historic treble of titles, with their UEFA EURO 2008 and 2012 triumphs being sandwiched by the 2010 FIFA World Cup win.

• In 2010 he scored the winner in extra time as Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 to claim their first World Cup. In celebration he ripped off his shirt with the message "Dani Jarque, siempre con nosotros" (Dani Jarque, always with us) as a tribute to his friend, the former Espanyol player who had sadly passed away a year earlier.

• His childhood idol Pep Guardiola witnessed a 15-year-old Iniesta playing for Barça's youth teams. Stood next to Xavi Hernández on the sidelines, Guardiola said: "You will retire me, but this kid will retire us both."

• He also has nine Liga crowns, six Copa del Rey and three FIFA Club World Cup titles.

• Iniesta won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award in 2012, and was also chosen as the Best Player of the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League.

• Iniesta has been chosen in the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year six times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016), the most selections ever in midfield.

He is sixth in the list of all-time UEFA Champions League appearance-makers (group stage to final) with 130.

What you might not know

• Despite being Barcelona club captain, there is footage of a young Iniesta bashfully admitting to TV cameras he grew up a Real Madrid fan.

• A big cinema fan, Iniesta had a cameo role in Spanish film 'Quien mató a Bambi' (Who killed Bambi – while it sounds nasty, we are assured it's a comedy) in which he is pictured on the football pitch – where else?

• Made his Spain debut at the ground of Albacete; his first club.

• While Iniesta himself is regarded as one of the best midfielders of all time, he has never hidden his admiration for former team-mate Xavi: "There are not enough words of praise for Xavi. I can't find high enough praise to explain what he represents as a player and person."

He says

"Me a hero? No! I feel very loved, obviously. The fans show their support all the time. But a hero is someone who has to fight against a disease or has to emigrate in order to feed their children. I'm privileged to be able to play football and sometimes I'm lucky enough to make people happy."