Five times Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have properly enjoyed the paparazzi and dominated the headlines for the past decades, leaving Barcelona‘s influential playmaker Andres Iniesta‘s sustained splendor to go under the radar to some degree.
The word legend completely applies to Iniesta, who will head far from the Nou Camp subsequent to winning 32 trophies in an awesome 700 caps, having first joined the club over two decades prior at the age of 12.
Iniesta is more than plain statistics, however, the Spaniard is more than just a player because of what he represents: His style of play, alongside Xavi and Messi, embodied with the silky smooth passing carousel – to take Sir Alex Ferguson’s expression – which enchanted the world and won two Champions League titles under Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011.
That team has been bit by bit separating, season after season, Eric Abidal left in 2013, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes in 2014, Xavi in 2015, Dani Alves in 2016, and now Iniesta, leaving Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Gerard Pique as the only remaining players of perhaps the greatest team in Barcelona’s history.
Iniesta is more than just a player, Leaving Camp Nou is something beyond the typical end-of-season squad reshaping. For the beautiful game lovers, Iniesta means more than just a midfielder who passed and dribbled the ball with uncommon brightness. Iniesta is a bright definition of ” The Beauty Of Football“.
Iniesta isn’t just a Barcelona legend: he is also a national hero. He is a unique player among Barca players in getting a warm welcome wherever he goes in Spain, even being given an overwhelming applause from Real Madrid fans subsequent to netting a sizzling strike in a 4-0 triumph at the Bernabeu in November 2015.
Notwithstanding, there is no doubt that the Spanish midfielder is a role model to any aspiring playmaker. Much like Xavi Hernández before him, his technicalities, vision, and ability to dictate the pace of a game has been reliably perceived by probably the most prominent names in the game.
Following the news that the 33-year-old will leave Barcelona towards the end of the season, with China his presumable next stop to see out the final years of his career. And his departure from La Liga is in this way inciting a surprising and unashamed overflowing of emotion from lots of footballers
“Andres and I are similar in that we both use our bodies a lot, to avoid opponents. But he has something that always amazes me. There’s always a moment when you think you’re going to catch him when you think you’re going to get the ball off him, but you can’t. He’s not especially quick, but he has that ability to always get away from you, which comes from his technique.”
“Iniesta is easily Spain’s most complete player. He has everything. Playing alongside him is very easy”
“The press often ask me whether Messi or Ronaldo is the best, but for me, something is very clear: Andres Iniesta is the number one. He is able to do even more difficult things on the pitch. He is magic with the ball and so influential.”
Vicente Del Bosque
“He is the complete footballer. He can attack and defend, he creates and scores.”
“He’s creative, he runs with the ball, he’s got a brilliant final pass and with each passing year, he’s become more of a goalscorer as well as a provider. He’s a source of immense confidence for us. During matches, you can see him taking on more and more responsibility and in the attack, he’s the team’s reference point.”
International caps: 125 appearances, 13 goals
UEFA club competition: 138 appearances, 11 goals
Domestic competition: 525 appearances, 46 goals
UEFA Champions League (4): 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015
UEFA Super Cup (2): 2011, 2015
FIFA Club World Cup (3): 2009, 2011, 2015
Spanish Liga (8): 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016
Copa del Rey (6): 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Spanish Super Cup (6): 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016
FIFA World Cup (1): 2010
UEFA EURO (2): 2008, 2012
U19 EURO (1): 2002
U16 EURO (1): 2001
UEFA Best Player in Europe (1):2012
UEFA EURO Player of the Tournament (1): 2012
UEFA.com Fans’ Team of the Year (6): 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016
“Iniesta is a great player. If people compare me to him, that makes me proud. He is one of the best midfielders in the history of football. I like playing against him. I admire him as a player and an athlete.”
“Iniesta doesn’t dye his hair, he doesn’t wear earrings and he hasn’t got any tattoos. Maybe that makes him unattractive to the media, but he is the best.”
“When he has the ball, it’s like everything else stops – like the camera is going in slow motion.”
“When I see him play these days, he reminds me of Xavi. He was always a top-quality player. He started very young with us, and it’s crazy to see how he has gone on to make so much history.”
“Iniesta is the boyfriend that every mother wants her daughter to have. The figures over his career tell you all you need to know. He is a magical player. There are few players in the world that can compare to him.”
It will be interestingly strange to see Iniesta donning anything different from Barcelona colors, and some are stating it’s too early for him to leave– particularly after his scintillating match performance against Sevilla in Copa del Rey’s final.
However, an artist should never exceed his welcome or fail out in unremarkableness. An artist like Andres Iniesta, should just one day leave and make the footballing world to recall the remarkable memories he once gave the beautiful game lovers. Since those awesome memories endure till forever, much the same as his outstanding legacy.