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Andres Iniesta talks Xavi, Messi, Yamal, Barcelona, Guardiola, La Masia, Ballon d’Or



Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Andres Iniesta is immortal in FC Barcelona’s history. The Spanish maestro dominated European football for over a decade under Pep Guardiola and remains one of the greatest players to have ever played the game.

He left the club of his dreams in 2018 on a free transfer and joined Vissel Kobe in Japan. After five years in Kobe, he has now joined the Emirates Club in the UAE.

The Barcelona legend recently spoke to Sharjah Sports TV (h/t SPORT) in a lengthy interview that covered his glamorous career for both club and country. He began with a quote of appreciation for the club of his life and the quality of the team.

“Barcelona, for me, is the best club in the world. Naturally, these types of clubs aspire to have the best players, not only in Spain but in the world.”

Iniesta is and will remain, one of La Masia’s biggest success stories. He spoke about the academy’s greatness and ability to produce world-class players.

La Masia provides all the conditions through attention to the players and academic training. The capabilities and conditions available are distinctive and wonderful. It’s the ability to develop and strengthen yourself to become a footballer. This changed my life.”

His love for Barcelona poured out in the quotes that followed, with the legend even calling the chance to don the crest as his biggest achievement.

“For me, it is not just titles, but many seasons, several seasons at Barcelona. It is not only a pride and a dream but something wonderful. Being able to be present in all seasons, especially those at the club. My biggest title was making my debut with the first team.”

Iniesta then went on to recount some of his best memories from the years of European football in which he shone. Unsurprisingly, he chose the iconic last-minute goal against Chelsea to top the list.

“The match at Stamford Bridge was a very intense match in all aspects, and you could see the public in the match after the score was 1-0 and then 1-1 in the 93rd minute. It was exceptional and extraordinary to reach the final against United.”

“The remontada against PSG is one of the most incredible matches to watch,” he added on the team’s stunning comeback against Paris-Saint Germain at Camp Nou.

Needless to say, the World Cup-winning goal was equally high up the midfielder’s list of memories.

“You can imagine how it felt to score the goal that meant the World Cup for Spain. There are no words to describe it.”

The Spanish maestro then proceeded to give his two cents on Barcelona under Pep Guardiola and the manager’s brilliance.

“It was an opportunity to be under the leadership of Guardiola. He developed a lot for us collectively. He is a unique coach who has the ability to see football and what can happen in a unique way. Personally, he is one of those whom I will always admire,” he said.

Xavi with Andres Iniesta. (Photo by YUICHI YAMAZAKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Staying on the topic of managers, Iniesta spoke on Xavi Hernandez being the first team coach and the impact of his former teammate.

“I believe that Xavi’s return to the club came during a difficult period that the club was going through administratively, internally and externally, and he had the courage to choose this challenge now. I think as time went by, things have become more positive.”

To this day, Iniesta remains one of the best players in history to have never won a Ballon d’Or. When asked about the award, he admitted that he would have liked to win one.

“If you ask me whether I would have liked to win a Ballon d’Or, I would say yes. But no, football was not unfair with me and my awards. I’m very happy with my career and with everything that happened.”

La Masia has produced innumerable talents over the years, even after Iniesta’s departure. Yet, Lamine Yamal remains one of the most special players to have made his way to the first team in recent times.

“With hard work and progress, Lamine Yamal will turn out to be a unique player. It’s hard to play for Barcelona at 16 years old, but he has all the time in the world to grow and develop,” Iniesta said on the prodigy.

The Spanish genius also spoke on Lionel Messi’s incredible run in the World Cup in Qatar last year that saw him complete football.

“I spoke with Messi during the World Cup. Of course, I was happy that he was doing well and eventually won it. With his ability and experience, he brings happiness wherever he goes.”

Finally, the interview concluded with a quote that Iniesta called home for most of his career – the Spotify Camp Nou.

“I played in a lot of stadiums: Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, San Siro, Maracaná… There are many, but for me, the Camp Nou is #1, the best. Every time you play in that stadium it feels like a dream.”

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