Kike ends stellar Spain career

"The moment has finally arrived," said Spain captain Kike as he ended an international career that brought two FIFA Futsal World Cup triumphs and five UEFA Futsal EUROs.

Kike celebrates reaching the Futsal EURO final earlier this year
Kike celebrates reaching the Futsal EURO final earlier this year ©Sportsfile

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.