Record-breaking Spain striker David Villa stopped short of admitting his international career is now definitely over but conceded it would be difficult for him to play for his country again as he looks ahead to a new challenge in America.
Villa was left visibly upset after being substituted in the second half of Spain's 3-0 victory over Australia on Monday night, a match which brought the curtain down on La Roja's disappointing FIFA World Cup™ defence with the holders having already been knocked out.
Spain's all-time record goalscorer, who took his tally to 59 in 97 appearances with the opener against Australia, admitted last month that the World Cup was likely to be his international swansong after agreeing a three-year deal to join new MLS side New York City FC, but he insisted after Monday's game that he would still be available for his country if needed.
However, the 32-year-old - who will join Melbourne City FC on loan from sister club NYC for a short spell later this year - is also well aware that he may have played his last game for Spain. He told the Spanish press: "I've always said that I love playing in the national team and that's what I've always dreamed of. I would play until I'm 55 but I'm aware that's impossible.
"I've taken the decision to go to MLS and, as such, I will be without any competitive matches for several months which makes it difficult to continue. Then, after these six months, we'll see. If the coach wants to call me up, I would be delighted, but it's difficult and you need to be realistic. It would be normal that it all finishes here."
Villa's goal against Australia left him 15 clear of Spain's next-best goalscorer, Raul, while Fernando Torres is third in line with 38 goals having also netted on Monday night. After Torres there are no current Spain players remotely close to Villa's mark, but the former Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia hitman unselfishly hopes that in the coming years his record does come under threat.
He said in AS: "I hope that not many years pass by for my record to be broken because that would be good for Spain. I'd be happy if they overtook me because I will always be in this national team's history."