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Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
Hierro to end Spain career
Spain captain Fernando Hierro
Hierro was emotional after revealing his intentions
Spain captain Fernando Hierro has revealed he will retire from international football after the World Cup.

Hierro, 34, is planning to concentrate on his club football with Real Madrid after his 13-year international career.

"It's a very difficult moment for me," said an emotional Hierro.

"I took the decision back in December last year and announced it to the football federation and the coach. It had become clear to me that this was the ideal moment."

Open Quote
I've given it everything for my country, for the national team and for my team-mates
Close Quote
Fernando Hierro

Even though he is a defender, Hierro is Spain's leading international goalscorer as well as being the country's most capped outfield player.

He made his debut in September 1989 in a 1-0 win over Poland and has played 88 games for the full international side, scoring 29 goals.

Hierro has now appeared at four World Cups, dating back to 1990 when he was a non-playing member of Spain's squad in Italy.

He began the current Spanish campaign by scoring penalties in each of the side's first two wins against Slovenia and Paraguay.

In the second round he gave away the penalty that allowed Ireland the opportunity to equalise in the final minute, but he calmly slotted in Spain's first penalty in a shoot-out they won 3-2.

Spain captain Fernando Hierro
Hierro has been a key member of the Spain team

Hierro is hoping he can postpone his international retirement for three more games by taking his side through to the final.

"I hope to take make it to 91 games before my time is up," Hierro said. "I think Spain deserve that.

"I'm satisfied with my role in international football. I've given it everything for my country, for the national team and for my team-mates."

Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho paid tribute to Hierro.

"A great person is quitting the national team. It's going to be very difficult to find a substitute," he said.


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GROUP B
  P GD PTS
SPAIN 3 +5 9
PARAGUAY 3 0 4
SOUTH AFRICA 3 0 4
SLOVENIA 3 -5 0

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