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   June 24, 2002 | 1910 IST


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Luis Enrique calls it a day

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Spain midfielder Luis Enrique has followed skipper Fernando Hierro into international retirement following the team's exit from the World Cup.

The 32-year-old Barcelona player told Catalunya Radio that the defeat against South Korea had been his last game for Spain and he now wanted to concentrate on playing for his club.

"It was my last appearance for the national side," he said in an interview just before the team left South Korea for Spain in the early hours of Monday morning.

Luis EnriqueHierro, the 34-year-old Real Madrid defender who is Spain's top scorer, announced his decision to end a 13-year international career spanning four World Cups before the Korea game, which Spain lost on penalties after the match ended goalless.

Luis Enrique, who has played in three World Cups, said: "I made the decision well before the World Cup and the president of the Spanish football federation and the coach were made aware of it some time ago.

"Now it is time to make way for the youngsters and for the remainder of my career I want to dedicate myself to my club. I am looking forward to starting with Barcelona because it is about time we won a title."

He made his debut in a 2-0 defeat by Romania in April 1991 under coach Luis Suarez, going on to score 12 goals in 62 appearances.

Versatility and a combative nature made him a regular under national coach Jose Antonio Camacho and his predecessor, Javier Clemente.

He began his professional career at Sporting Gijon in his native Asturias before joining Real Madrid in 1991.

Luis Enrique's international breakthrough came while playing for Real but it was after joining Barcelona in 1996 that he reached his peak.

He became a firm favourite at the Nou Camp despite his previous spell with rivals Real.

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