Barcelona star Iniesta signs up until 2018
December 23, 2013 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Iniesta (center) is a key part of Barcelona's side that also includes Neymar (second right), Adriano (left) and Messi (far right)
- Andres Iniesta agrees a new deal with Spanish soccer club Barcelona until 2018
- The 29-year-old midfield star joined the Spanish club when he was just 12
- Iniesta said signing the new deal was a "magical day"
- Swtizerland announce Vladimir Petkovic as its new manager from July 2014
(CNN) -- Barcelona star Andres Iniesta unwrapped an early Christmas present Monday as he inked a new deal with the Spanish football club.
The 29-year-old added an extension to his current deal that will see him stay with his boyhood club until the end of June 2018.
"Today is a magical day!" Iniesta wrote on his Twitter page. "My life and my club... Thank you for the love you have given me since I arrived at 12 years old."
Iniesta, regarded as one of the global game's most gifted and versatile players, was first spotted by Barcelona scouts in 1996.
He soon left his home to train with the Barcelona youth academy and made his debut for the first team in 2002.
FC Barcelona: More than social media
Messi claims fourth Ballon d'Or
Footless footballer to meet Messi
Since then Iniesta has become one of Barcelona's stars as part of a side that has won six Spanish league titles, lifted Spain's Copa del Rey twice and won the European Champions League title three times.
A key international player, he also scored the only goal in a tense 2010 World Cup final to give Spain a narrow victory over the Netherlands.
The 29-year-old brought along his parents and daughter Valeria to help him celebrate the start of a new era with Barcelona as he signed the deal at the club's offices.
Barcelona said in a statement on its website: "Iniesta was due to end his contract in 2015. This extension until 2018 means the FC Barcelona midfielder will have spent more than half of his life on the club's books.
"From 2017/18, his contract will be automatically extended provided he has appeared in a certain number of matches over the course of the season just ended."
Switzerland future planning
The main protagonists in international football may be focused on next year's World Cup but Switzerland is already planning for life after Brazil.
With coach Ottmar Hitzfeld bowing out after the World Cup, the world No. 8 team has named Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic as his successor.
The Swiss Football Association said in a statement that the 50-year-old would take over on 1 July 2014 but that if he guided Switzerland to the 2016 Euros his deal would continue until the end of the European championships.
Petkovic, who describes himself as a Swiss Bosnian-Croat, began his career in the former state of Yugoslavia as an attacking midfielder before continuing his playing career in Switzerland, where he also turned to coaching.
Many of Switzerland's squad also come from the country's Balkan migrant community.
Petkovic, who has been in charge of Italian club Lazio since 2012, said of his new appointment: "It has never been easy for anyone to follow Ottmar Hitzfeld.
"It will not be easy for me, but I am absolutely convinced of the potential of the players and the team. This quality will also help me. I firmly believe that we can succeed together."
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.