'I'm in the middle of my career' - Retirement far from Ramos' thoughts

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Spain will have to make do without Gerard Pique after the 2018 World Cup, but they can take solace in the Real Madrid man keeping himself available

Sergio Ramos has no plans to follow Spain team-mate Gerard Pique into international retirement after the 2018 World Cup and is adamant that he still has "many years left" at the top.

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The Real Madrid star turns 31 on Thursday but is showing no sign of slowing down as he continues to be a vital cog at both club and international level.

Ramos is expected to play in Spain's friendly against France in Paris on Tuesday and he will win his 142nd cap in the process, with Iker Casillas' record of 167 well within sight.

His usual centre-back partner Pique will not be around for much longer, having already revealed plans to step away from the international stage after next year's World Cup, though Ramos will not be following suit.

"I am in the middle of my career," he said at a media conference.

"I have many years left at a good level. Each season I reset myself to start from scratch, not settling for what I've already won.

"As long as I continue to want to win, both in the national team and in the club, I will continue playing. I hope it's the longest possible time — I see it [retirement] far in the future."

Hoping to profit from many more years of Ramos is Spain coach Julen Lopetegui, who is eager for his team to play with freedom on Tuesday, insisting they will not just be looking to nullify France's chief threats like Antoine Griezmann.

"Let's play thinking only about us," he said. "We have a lot of respect for France, but the most important thing is to maintain the style, our football.

"We always face the game with confidence. We are aware of the strength of France, but we have our chance, we can play well."

The match is also going to be noteworthy due to the implementation of video technology for the first time in France, and while Lopetegui thinks it is a positive step, he believes the authorities need to find the balance when using it.

"The technology is welcome, but it needs to be applied in the right doses so that it does not lose freshness and interest," he said.

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