MADRID, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has paid homage to veteran midfielder Xavi Hernandez who announced his retirement from international football after 133 appearances for his country on Tuesday.
Xavi is recognized as the architect of the style of touch football 'tiki-taka' which led Spain to the 2008 and 2012 European Championships as well as the 2010 World Cup, something Del Bosque was quick to recognize.
"He was more important for us that the national team coach," he said in declarations published on the website of the Spanish Football Federation.
"He is one of the great players that I have had in the dressing room over the last 6 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," continued the coach, who said Xavi had been, "fantastic" for Spain and would be "difficult to replace".
Xavi said he will continue to play for his club, FC Barcelona, but commented that from now he will be "just another fan" of the Spanish national side.
"He is and always will be a player who has the appreciation of the Federation, the coaches and by me," said Del Bosque.
Spain start their campaign to qualify for the 2016 European Championships at the start of 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 on September 8.
After crashing out of the first stage of the recent World Cup finals, he needs to find a replacement for Xavi quickly and possible candidates could be Athletic Club Bilbao's Ander Iturraspe, Real Madrid's Isco, or Cesc Fabrigas, who looks to have recaptured his form after signing for Chelsea this summer.