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Pique: I'm always proud to play for Spain

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique insisted he was proud to play for Spain despite his backing for the Catalan independence referendum.

Pique, 30, was named in Spain's squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel next month.

On Thursday, Pique called for peaceful expression of opinions ahead of the planned referendum.

The centre-back, who has played 91 games for Spain, said he was delighted to be included in Julen Lopetegui's squad.

"I am very happy to return and see if we can win the first game which would qualify us, which is what is important, and be once again in the World Cup finals," Pique said, via Marca.

"I have always said that to play for the national team is a pride and a great motivation. The fact that the coach has called me up again shows that I am doing things well."

Spain are three points clear atop Group G ahead of their final two qualifiers.