The 32-year-old issued a statement on Wednesday in which he said, "The most difficult thing was to say 'goodbye'. After a lot of thought, I think that moment has arrived”.

"I am putting an end to a glorious era for the Spanish national team, which started 11 years ago after forming part of a historic generation which has helped fulfil the dreams of millions of fans,” he added.

Alonso made his debut in 2003 and after the disappointment of the 2006 World Cup, he was an integral part of the Spain side which conquered the 2008 and 2012 European Championships as well as winning the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

However, like so many of his companions, he was disappointing in Brazil during the summer as Spain crashed out of the first stage of the World Cup and like Barcelona's midfield general, Xavi Hernandez, who he partnered so often on the pitch, he too has decided to draw the curtain on his international career.

Their retirement means that when Spain coach Vicente del Bosque names his squad for a friendly match against France and the first qualification game for the 2016 European Championships Friday, he will have to start rebuilding his midfield.

"Xabi Alonso has left us an incredible legacy," Del Bosque commented on Alonso's retirement.

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