Barcelona stands for many things, and Xavi Hernandez will remain the epitome to all of those things. For almost two decades Xavi has made Barcelona’s fans the proudest in Europe while thrilling both the opponents’ audience too in the process. Now, Xavi shows off his simple, but effective brand of passing football in Qatar playing for Al Sadd SC and winning titles while comfortably waiting for his retirement days.
There is no doubt that Xavi is the best of his generation, a legendary midfielder that had his debut on March 24, 1998 under Jose Mourinho in the Super Cup. Yes, Mourinho was actually Van Gal’s assistant back then in Barcelona, and was in charge at Xavi’s debut game. After that, Xavi would go on to win 31 different team trophies and countless individual ones. That makes him officially the most successful Spanish player.
Europe at His Knees
All statistics are in Xavi’s favor of being Spain’s best midfielder. He is the first Barcelona player to have played 150 international matches for the national team, a humble living embodiment of the tika-taka style and team ethos. Ever since 2005, there was no manager that ever doubted Xavi’s destiny to lead the club by being consistently named the captain of Barcelona.
Xavi has had too many fantastic career highlights. One of those that everyone remembers is his breathtaking assist to Messi in the 2009 Champions League final against Manchester United, sealing United’s fate and helping Barcelona win the so much coveted European trophy. Xavi played a full part of Guardiola’s best moments of reign two years later as well, when United fell victim for the second time in the Champions League final.
On top of that, Xavi holds the record for the most Champions League appearances (143). Only Iker Casillas who has had 140 appearances can beat that record because the other two closest to them are both retired: Gigs and Seedorf, who have had 141 and 125 appearances respectively.
His immaculate role in dictating terms at every goal opportunity has been dissected numerous times by football experts, and every time there was fascination of his ultimate precision in his basic ‘pass and move’ philosophy. Did you know that Xavi is one of a handful of players to have had a 100% passing accuracy in the Champions League? That’s what happened in 2012 against Paris Saint-Germain when all of 96 passes Xavi made found their target. It’s one of the many evidences that make him the God of the midfield, and arguably Spain’s best player to date.
Mentor and Role Model
Every player at Barcelona has learned something from this football god. Ivan Rakitic specifically has mentioned Xavi as the most influential person besides Luis Henrique in his football career. He claims that Xavi’s presence both in the dressing room, on the pitch and off the pitch has made him a better player and a person. He is delighted to have taken advantage of every moment he had with Xavi during their time together in Barcelona.
Xavi’s abilities of being the captain, a shield in front of the rearguard, a set-piece specialist and chief orchestrator has without a doubt influenced an entire generation of young Barcelona football players. He is one of the few to have almost never failed on the pitch.
We have never seen him in a fight on the field and he has never been part of any controversy that are quite common these days. Instead, what he offered was loyalty with a taste for good football.
How to choose which trophy is more memorable than the other when you have 31 of them? Xavi has won the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker four times in a row, has been voted into the FIFA World XI team and UEFA Team of the Year six and five years in a row; 8 times he has won the Primera trophy, 4 times the Champions League, 2 times the UEFA Super Cup, once the World Cup and twice the Euro (not counting all the individual honors he has received in the process).
His most memorable one have got the be the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011, as well as the Euro finals in 2008 and 2012, each time setting up an assist that helped his team won a trophy. He is without a hesitation, the greatest midfielder to have ever played!