History maker Andres Iniesta confirms Spain retirement after Russian Federation defeat

Russia's meteoric rise this World Cup has taken the global football fraternity by surprise with pundits doffing their hats to manager Stanislav Cherchesov, who has ensured a seamless translation in the team's play in every game.

Russia's Aleksandr Yerokhin made a little piece of World Cup history on Sunday when he became the first man to appear as a fourth substitute in a tournament match during the hosts' game against Spain in Moscow.

"The match. was a horror".

"To all, thank you for making me a better team-mate and football player".

Spain's loss was the culmination of a disappointing campaign that began in chaotic fashion with the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui two days before their opening fixture.

"This morning I was very nervous but now it is time to celebrate".

"There are players around, they just have to find a path to success", he said.

The Barcelona-based Sport newspaper criticised Real Madrid, the Catalan club's bitter rivals, for "blowing apart the Roja's chances" by approaching Lopetegui when they did.

To say Iniesta's decision to retire isn't a surprise would be an understatement. We prefer to think that it is a new opportunity to cry, to learn, to get up, to grow and to continue struggling.

During that time, Spain won two European Championships and one World Cup as the golden generation of Spanish players performed heroics in three consecutive tournaments.

"The end of a generation", declared the cover of AS after a defeat which denied veteran midfielder Andres Iniesta one last gong before retiring from global football, with defender Gerard Pique set to follow him. He had said before the tournament started that he would be retiring after the tournament in Russian Federation. "Winning isn't easy, it's a lot more complicated than it looks, but the national team will march on forwards because it has a lot of good players". "The man of the match is our team - and our fans".

"We pursued a dream and we achieved it". "Today we had to endure, endure and endure everything, go through pain and cramps".

"Hopefully in a near future we can change these disappointing situations of the last Euros and World Cup".

Russian Federation are now just two wins away from being in the final and playing for the right to lift the trophy in front of President Vladimir Putin at Luzhniki on July 15.

  • Julie Sanders