In a move that can hardly be described a surprise, Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso announced on Wednesday that he will be retiring from the Spanish national football team.
Seleccion Espanola broke the news:
The player confirmed the news via Twitter, showing the kind of modesty and gratitude people have come to expect from one of the most well-spoken players in all of football:
I announce my retirement from international football. It's been an enormous honour for 11 great years. Sincere thanks to everyone involved.— Xabi Alonso (@XabiAlonso) August 27, 2014
The 32-year-old midfielder was rumoured to have made the decision to retire from international football at the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup, a report he immediately denied, per the Press Association, via The Guardian.
Rumours persisted, however, and following the disappointment that was the past World Cup for the Spanish team, fans and pundits assumed the country's most successful generation of footballers were ready to pass the torch to a new group of players.
Alonso won one World Cup and two European titles with La Roja, with his proudest moment coming in the final of the 2010 World Cup. Nigel de Jong unleashed a devastating kick to his chest, leaving him in obvious pain. Alonso soldiered on, however, dominating play in the centre of the pitch as he always did.
As shared by AS English, the legendary holding midfielder made 114 total appearances for the squad:
Alonso made 114 international appearances for Spain, being part of the historic squads to win a World Cup and 2 European Championships— AS English (@English_AS) August 27, 2014
He's also not the first Spanish international to call it quits in 2014:
Alonso following other influential stars such as Xavi and David Villa calling it a day after the World Cup. Big changes for Spain— AS English (@English_AS) August 27, 2014
While Alonso never received the kind of send-off he deserved (Spain crashed out of the 2014 World Cup at the first hurdle), there's little doubt he will be widely hailed for a glittering career in the national jersey.
Anchoring one of the best group of midfielders football has ever seen, the Spanish team was nearly unbeatable in major tournaments for four straight years. The group were finally able to win the nation a major trophy, as Spain hadn't emerged victorious on the highest level since the European Cup of 1964.