Iniesta calls time on Spain after World Cup exit

Heavy favorites Spain still offer plenty of ways to make money

"I'm convinced that 99 per cent would say that Spain have been much better (than Russia)".

The 34-year-old made his Spain debut in May 2006 and went on to appear 133 times for his nation, scoring 13 goals - one of which was the victor in the 2010 World Cup Final.

Spain captain Ramos, who said it was "very hard" to take his country's "painful" World Cup exit, did not address his own future plans but said he was sure his national side would be back competing for trophies at the next global tournaments.

Iniesta admitted that "It's time to step aside", but that "It hasn't been an easy decision", having taken "many months" to mull the decision over.

Hosts Russia triumphed 4-3 on penalties to reach the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday after a surprising 1-1 draw in Moscow, which could spell the end of an era for La Roja.

Fernando Hierro, a former player who was acting as the federation's sporting director, was appointed as the team's new coach two days before the opening match against Portugal. "After all the criticism following the group stages, we have proven ourselves as a team again today".

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Spain took the lead in fortuitous fashion when 38-year-old defender Sergei Ignashevich was pressured by Sergio Ramos into deflecting a free kick into his own net. "I'm leaving with a bad taste in my mouth, like everyone else". "On a personal level, it's the end of a wonderful phase".

Koke, who also missed in the shootout, said it had been hard to lose him.

"We're the toughest judges of ourselves and we'll see what things can be improved".

Spain have stuck with that philosophy as they chase down further major honours, but their efforts this summer are considered to have lacked a spark as they play in front of opponents rather than around them.

Without Lopetegui's guidance, Spain resorted to passing football which did not penetrate, in particular finding it hard to break down Iran's defence in the group stage as well as Russian Federation in the last 16.

"But I hope we have proved that they can believe in us and we do represent the country".

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