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Football: Xavi Hernandez announces international retirement

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez announced Tuesday the end of a dazzling international football career crowned by La Roja's 2010 World Cup triumph and two European Championships.

"I have decided to leave the national team. I think my time there has finished," the 34-year-old Barcelona player told a news conference.

"It has been a wonderful, fantastic period for me. It has been an honour," said Xavi, who played a decisive role in Spain's triumphs at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, at Euro 2008 and at Euro 2012.

"We have managed to achieve many successes in the past six or eight years and now I am just another fan of the Spain team," he said.

Xavi said he would stay with Barcelona, however, after being persuaded to ditch plans to leave the club.

The player revealed that he had planned to leave the national side after Spain's Euro 2012 triumph in Ukraine, but coach Vicente del Bosque convinced him to stay.

"He insisted I stay for Brazil and Brazil was disappointing for everyone collectively and for me also individually," he said.

"The fact that I did not take part in the decisive game against Chile was a personal disappointment," said Xavi of the match that Spain lost 2-0 in Rio de Janeiro in June, ensuring their exit from the World Cup in the group stage.

- Planned to leave club -

Xavi only played in the first game of Spain's World Cup campaign in Brazil, a humiliating 5-1 loss to the Netherlands, an unfortunate end to his 133rd game for his country.

Spain's coaching staff agreed that his time with the national side "has finished", he said.

Xavi said he had considered leaving Barcelona, too, after a disappointing 2013-14 season in which the club won no major titles.

"I ended the season a bit disappointed. I had two major collective and personal disappointments, perhaps the worst of my career on a personal level," he said.

"I found myself on the bench for the last game of the league season, which had not happened to me in recent years in the national team either, and I decided to tell the club that the best thing would be to say that it is over now," Xavi said.

But Barcelona's new coach Luis Enrique and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, "convinced me I can still be competitive and useful to the club," he added.

"I will give everything to carry on being important and useful to Barcelona. I hope people understand my decision.

"I had major personal disappointments and I thought my time with the club was over," said the player, who had been the subject of end-of-season Spanish press reports speculating that he could go to the United States or Qatar.

"I don't know what the next season will bring but I have a good feeling," Xavi said, noting that he has two years still to go on his Barcelona contract.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140805/football-xavi-hernandez-announces-international-retirement-0