Madrid: Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has paid rich tributes to veteran midfielder Xavi Hernandez who announced his retirement from international football after 133 appearances for his country.
Xavi is recognised as the architect of the 'tiki-taka' style of touch football, which led Spain to the 2008 and 2012 European Championships as well as the 2010 World Cup, something Del Bosque was quick to recognise, reports Xinhua.
"He was more important for us that the national team coach," Del Bosque said on the website of the Spanish Football Federation Tuesday.
"He is one of the great players that I have had in the dressing room over the last six years. He is a player I appreciated as a person and also as a player," added Del Bosque of the 34-year-old.
"Xavi has been key in the style of play of the national team which has given us so much success and we will miss him for what he did both on and off the pitch," said the coach, adding that Xavi had been fantastic" for Spain and would be difficult to replace.
Spain start their campaign to qualify for the 2016 European Championships in September. Del Bosque has just one friendly game against France to prepare for their first qualifying game, which is at home to a competitive Macedonia slated for Sep 8.