Spain's shocking group-stage elimination was already determined, but forward David Villa made the most of his final international match Monday afternoon, scoring his ninth career World Cup goal in a 3-0 win over Australia. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Villa's nine World Cup goals are an all-time record among Spanish players.
Despite the nation's proud footballing history, no other Spaniard has scored more than five goals in World Cup play, though four different players—Fernando Morientes, Raul, Emilio Butragueno and Fernando Hierro—netted exactly five, per FIFA.com. Of course, as many excellent players as Spain has produced, the country had always been known for underachieving in major tournaments—until its recent stretch of dominance from 2008 to 2012.
Andoni Zubizarreta's 16 World Cup caps are a record among Spanish players, while other powerful footballing nations typically have multiple players approaching 20 caps on the game's biggest stage. Six Brazilians have played in 17 or more Cup matches, and a dozen Germans have done the same. Italian record-holder Paolo Maldini has 23 World Cup appearances to his name, while Argentinian legend Diego Maradona retired with 21.
Spain may not stack up to other nations when it comes to individual records, but Villa and his teammates achieved unprecedented success on the team level, sandwiching back-to-back Euro championships (2008 and 2012) around 2010's World Cup glory.
Villa announced earlier this month that the 2014 Cup would mark the end of his international career, and the tournament ultimately marked the end of an era in international football. With Spain's surprising exit sealed by prior losses to the Netherlands and Chile, Monday's game against similarly-eliminated Australia was merely a matter of pride.
Fittingly enough, the experienced side put together one last dominant performance, while Villa scored his 59th career international goal—easily a record among Spaniards.
Now, the team that has grown so used to dominating the world will search for younger blood to restock for Euro 2016.
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