The most important and influential Spanish player bade farewell yesterday to his club, FC Barcelona. The “brain” with silk touch, Xavi Hernández, will take road to Qatar at the end of this season and should enjoy a luxury retirement (He is 35). “I will come back as coach or manager,” he said.
Sure, he will, but the Spanish soccer and Barcelona supporters are already breaking into tears due to the end of the top-level career of a player that overcame the difficulties in order to make the “possession style” prevail. Now, after 17 years in the elite and 26 trophies lifted, he will undoubtedly keep in the retina of soccer fans as the brilliant conductor of the most seductive orchestra.
Virtuous melody composed by intelligence, leadership and a glove as a foot. As well a stubborn conviction in a model, a style already created by his club, his home, but which he contributed to raise to the top. It wasn’t easy, because he had to fight during his early years with the “heavy slab” of replacing Pep Guardiola. He also had to impose his skills with the trendy physical soccer of the early 2000s.
He succeeded after some years being a supporting actor. Hence he became the insignia of the glorious age of the FC Barcelona and Spanish national team. Both of them showed the world that the ball runs better when it passionately kisses the grass. Then, Xavi was the elegant and subtle “motor” of these teams when they conquered the world.
He reached his higher performance and assumed he was the player destined to lead, to govern, to pause and control the game. Therefore, he became the Herbert von Karajan of “The art of deception”. A magister of filtering the ball with unusual clairvoyance and keeping it away from the opponents. The best defence is a good attack, they say.
Talent sculpted at La Masía by Johan Cruyff's philosophy and dressed with a gentleman's pose which has been recognised wherever he has played along the last years and with a Príncipe de Asturias award, shared with his friend Iker Casillas regarding their aim to unite the Spanish national team during the toughest moments.
A list of abilities that allow him to collect the most important titles (World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, Spanish La Liga…) despite this he never lifted the Ballon D’Or which probably he deserved. However, his career is outstanding until the point we will be more reminded of his influence on the game than the amount of titles he lifted (he is the more laureate player of history).
A trajectory this humble journalist never thought would be that huge when I saw him, in 1998 and at the Real Valladolid stadium – my hometown- scoring his first La Liga goal. He was 18 and with this goal avoided Louis van Gaal, the coach that brought him to the first Barcelona team, being fired. At the end of this season, he grabbed his first La Liga trophy.
Nowadays, his elite career comes to an end. It remains him three games with the FC Barcelona jersey, two of them finals (Kings Cup and Champions which would allow him, if the Spanish club conquer it, to have a perfect farewell according to his legacy. Thereby, let´s take a seat and enjoy the last accords of the waltz.
By Antonio Aragón Blanco
Xavi's trophies record
(1998/99, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2014/15)
(2005/06, 2008/09, 2010/11)
Club World Cup
European Super Cup
Under-20 World Cup