Spain captain Kike has announced his international retirement a few days after playing in a record fourth FIFA Futsal World Cup final.
The 34-year-old Murcia FS defender was capped 170 times during an international career stretching back to 1998. Although Sunday's 3-2 extra-time loss in Bangkok was Spain's second World Cup final defeat by Brazil in a row, Kike was part of their triumphs in 2000 and 2004.
"The moment has finally arrived and I would like to make public my decision to step down," said Kike, the only player to appear in four Futsal World Cup finals. "It's a decision many expected so causes no great surprise. It's something normal as everything has an ending. I would like to wish the new generation of players all the luck in the world and I am convinced they will do even better than we managed to do."
When his achievements at club level are added – four Ligas, three Spanish Cups and several more Spanish Super Cups as well as helping Murcia to the 2008 UEFA Futsal Cup final – Kike's exploits make for spectacular reading and put him on a par with goalkeeper Luis Amado who retired earlier this year.
Kike, voted the second best player at the 2012 World Cup, reflected: "It would have been better to say goodbye having stitched that third star [symbolising World Cup victory] on our shirts but there are things you just have to accept. Defeat as well as victory form part of sport. I would like to thank all my team-mates who have helped me feel both happy and proud down through the years.
"I would also like to express my gratitude to [former Spain coach] Javier Lozano, who took a chance on me when I was just a kid, and to current coach José Venancio López, who continued showing the same confidence in me. I will continue to play on for my club for as long as I can, and when the time comes to fight for my sport in another way, I will gladly do so," the defender concluded.
Spain, meanwhile, will begin their bid for a fifth straight European title next year in the main round of qualifying and will discover their opponents in the 4 December draw. UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 will be played in Antwerp, Belgium.
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