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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)
Iniesta (center) is a key part of Barcelona's side that also includes Neymar (second right), Adriano (left) and Messi (far right)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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.

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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."

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