Sergio Ramos has retired from international football with a “heavy heart” after being told he would not be part of Spain head coach Luis de la Fuente’s plans in the future.
Paris Saint-Germain defender Ramos, 36, is Spain’s most-capped player of all time with 180 appearances.
He made his debut as an 18-year-old in 2005 and was a key part of the Spain side that won three successive major tournaments – the 2010 World Cup and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012.
He was not called up for the squad at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and his last appearance was in March last year.
In a statement on social media, Ramos said that he hoped to play international football for longer but “football isn’t always fair”.
“The time has come,” he wrote. “Time for me to say goodbye to the Spain national team. To La Roja.
“This morning, I received a call from the current head coach who informed me that I am not and will not be part of his plans, regardless of how I perform or what I do in my career.
“With a heavy heart, it’s the end of a road that I hoped would stretch out further and which would end with a better taste in my mouth, on a par with all the success we achieved with La Roja.
“I honestly believe that this journey deserved to end at my own choosing or because my performances were not at a level worthy of our national team. Not due to a question of age or other reasons that, although I have not heard them directly, I have certainly felt. Because age in itself is not a virtue or a defect; it’s just a number that is not necessarily related to performance or ability.
“I admire and envy players like [Luka] Modric, [Lionel] Messi and Pepe. They are the essence of tradition, values, meritocracy and justice in football. Unfortunately, it won’t be like that for me because football isn’t always fair and football is never just football.”
Following an injury-hit first season with PSG after joining from Real Madrid, Ramos has been a regular starter this season.
He is under contract with the Ligue 1 champions until this summer.
As well as being Spain’s most-capped player, Ramos is also the nation’s joint-ninth highest all-time scorer with 23 goals.
He added: “This is something I have to accept, albeit with this sadness I share with you but also with my head held high, and thankful for all these years and for your support.
“I come away with unforgettable memories, all the titles we’ve fought for and celebrated together and the tremendous pride I feel as the most capped Spanish international of all time.
“This badge, this shirt and these fans, all of you, have made me happy. I’ll continue to support my country with the passion of someone lucky enough to proudly represent it 180 times. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who believed in me!”