Andres Iniesta Retires from International Play After Spain's Loss vs. Russia

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2018

Gerard Pique of Spain, Andres Iniesta of Spain during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia round of 16 match between Spain and Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium on July 01, 2018 in Moscow, Russia(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Andres Iniesta has announced his retirement from international football following Spain's penalty-defeat to Russia at the 2018 World Cup.

Per the Mirror's Alex Smith, the 34-year-old told Radio Estadio: "This was my last game for Spain. A marvellous spell is over. Sometimes the end is not as you dreamed it."

Iniesta was left out of the starting lineup for the clash by manager Fernando Hierro and was unable to inspire La Roja to victory following his introduction in the 67th minute, although he took and scored their first penalty in the shootout after the match ended 1-1.

Koke and Iago Aspas failed to beat Igor Akinfeev, though, as Russia secured a 4-3 win.

Former footballer Terry Gibson was surprised by Iniesta's exclusion from the lineup:

Terry Gibson @TerryGibson88

Very surprised Hierro has left Iniesta out today, i actually think he has been one of their better performers in this competition, apart from the fact he is & has been one of the best midfielders to have ever played the game.

Indeed, while the playmaker may be past his prime, in a mixed tournament for Spain he had been one of their stronger performers during the group stage.

Although he was unable to help Spain break the deadlock after he came on, he showed plenty of desire to, per Jonathan Liew of The Independent:

Jonathan Liew @jonathanliew

Or to put it another way: Iniesta, who was on the pitch for less than half as long, made more (13).

While his international career may not have ended as hoped, few can match what Iniestaachieved with La Roja over the years.

He made 131 appearances for his country and scored 13 goals, and he played a key role in Spain winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships either side of the 2010 World Cup:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Andrés Iniesta for #ESP: 🇪🇸 131 games ⚽️ 13 goals 🏆 EURO 2008 🏆 2010 World Cup 🏆 EURO 2012 Gracias, Andrés. https://t.co/TBFAyP8bvM

Only Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xavi Hernandez have earned more caps for La Roja. 

Spain still have the likes of David Silva and Isco available to them, so they'll hardly be lacking quality in midfield following Iniesta's departure, but he's been a mainstay in the side since his debut in 2006; moving on from him will be no easy task.