Like many of his cohorts, Andres Iniesta left the pitch in tears on Sunday evening as Spain went spiralling out of the World Cup at the last-16 stage.
Fernando Hierro’s team flimsily failed to break down a staunch Russian defensive stratagem over 120 minutes before eventually being dumped out on penalties at the Luhzniki Stadium in Moscow.
In the immediate aftermath of the defeat, Andres Iniesta made the not-entirely-unexpected announcement that his 131st appearance for La Roja would be his last, with the heavily-decorated midfield veteran confirming his international retirement there and then.
Speaking to the press after Spain’s exit, the 34-year-old lamented the “cruel” nature of going out on such a low:
It’s my last match with the national team. It’s a shame we couldn’t go through. Penalties are cruel. The guilty ones are always the players and everyone of us is responsible.
At an individual level a great period has finished. Sometimes finals don’t go the way we hope or dream.
Overall it’s probably the saddest day of my career. I leave with a bad taste in my mouth. It’s tough for everybody.
On an individual level it hasn’t been the best farewell but football and life is like that.
Gah. If anybody deserved the fairytale ending, it’s Iniesta. Not that his legacy has been besmirched in any way, but a player of his princely calibre should never have to well-up and slink away into international retirement in abject embarrassment.
Alas, football doesn’t work like that the majority of the time. You get what you get.
The cosmic ballet… goes on.