Spain have been the dominant football nation of the 21st century, both at club and international level. This has coincided with the rise of FC Barcelona establishing themselves as the leading football club on the planet. In the modern era, they have produced not just one, but two teams who are considered to be the greatest club sides in history.
The Camp Nou has been home to some of the finest players to ever grace the beautiful game. Diego Maradona and Johann Cruyff would all make the shortlist when discussing the greatest exponents of a sport which they often touched and turned to art. Lest we forget, the number one footballer on the planet Lionel Messi is still dazzling and mesmerising us all in the distinctive scarlet and blue stripes of the Catalan giants.
However, none of these superstars of Barcelona could or can represent Spain. Luckily, the reigning La Liga and European Cup holders have been able to source other talent within their ranks to the Spanish side. Let’s reminisce and look back at some of the best Barca individuals who have then gone on to light up the traditional red shirt of the national side.
Spain’s very own braveheart. A bullfighter, the definition of a warrior. Carles Puyol was the heart of Barcelona, emphasised by his leadership and never-say-die attitude. "El Capita" is a cherished figure in the history of this great club and went on to play in 593 official matches for the club and win 21 major titles. He racked up a century of games for his country and was a pivotal part of the triumphant Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup winning squads.
The orchestrator and mastermind behind the supremacy of the modern Barcelona and Spanish side. Peerless in possession and extremely intelligent as emphasised by Barcelona full-back Dani Alves: "We all live in the present, but Xavi lives in the future." Spain's UEFA Euro 2012 victory made Xavi the most successful player in Spanish football history. The statistics speak for themselves.
Arguably the most gifted player to ever pull on a Spain jersey and one of the most decorated players in world football, as demonstrated by the ritual standing ovations he receives at every ground he plays at with Barcelona. Scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup Final – the first and only time his country have lifted the precious Jules Rimet trophy.
Appeared in 351 official games for the Catalan club, picking up five La Liga titles in the process. His record of netting 232 goals in the renowned scarlet and red shirts made him the highest goalscorer in the club's history for several decades until a certain Argentinian eclipsed Rodriguez’s exploits in 2012. Criminally he only made 12 appearances for the national side, but still managed a goal every other game.
All of the aforementioned have enjoyed illustrious careers in the iconic Spanish apparel. Here are some of the most finest donned by Spain in years gone by for you to admire and appreciate:
1982 Spain Home Shirt
This World Cup was the only time La Roja have hosted the pinnacle of the beautiful game. This classic retro short sleeve v-neck is a retro classic glorified by its simplicity - shimmering red with a serene yellow stripe down both sleeves.
2008 Spain Away Shirt
The 2008 away shirt was the stuff of champions. The elegant gold paid tribute to the country’s flag, its royal family and the country’s status as an elite nation in world football. The striking black and gold made the team look like a swarm of killer bees on the pitch, ready to sting the opposition on a fast counter attack. A winning shirt for a winning team who would go on to lift the World Cup only a year later, the legendary shirt is available to purchase at UK Soccer Shop.
2016/17 Spain Home Shirt
It is the triangular effect immersed into the background of the classic red that stands out in the current shirt worn by Iniesta et al. Yellow adorns the right side of the shirt with two stripes running down the side as well as the Adidas logo adjacent to the flag motif. Extremely smart and sophisticated – this is a shirt which could inspire a third consecutive European crown for this great footballing nation.