Games, Goals & Glory

, SPECIAL

Xavi, one of the greatest midfielders the world has ever seen, has an eye watering 25 club medals making him the most successful player in Spanish history

Lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy on your final appearance for the club you’ve served for 24 years is nothing short of a dream ending and one richly deserved by Barcelona’s record breaking superstar.

The now departed Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has to his name 25 club medals, making him the most successful player in Spanish history. He scooped a World Youth champion’s medal in 1999 plus two European Championships and not forgetting the World Cup in 2010. But whilst some fear the newfound buying power of the likes of leagues in China, the Middle East and Asia, it could result in a flurry of European stars opting for far away shores like Xavi.

The 36 year old says he is happy he waited another year to win a domestic and European treble with Luis Enrique’s side before leaving. But now, almost one year on since the deal was struck, he maintains the time was right to wave goodbye to the Camp Nou. “I had the dream farewell,” smiles Xavi, who started in the famous youth academy when he was just 11.

“We won the treble, in fact we had a practically perfect season. I was the captain of the team, the veteran of the team and I enjoyed the respect and admiration of my teammates.” Xavi is the club record holder in terms of appearances and trophies won. So unsurprisingly the midfielder shed plenty of tears – and on more than one occasion – when he finally closed the door on his boyhood team.

“I’m honoured that people have this respect and admiration for me. It’s spectacular, everywhere I go around the world, people recognise me, thank me for the successes the ‘Culés’ have experienced. This is really priceless. This respect both as a football player and as a person is incredible and it’s important to me,” adds Xavi.

Qatar calling

Xavi was linked with a move away from the Catalan giants ahead of the 2014-15 season, but the midfielder opted to remain in Barcelona following persuasion from the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu, sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and manager Luis Enrique. The legendary playmaker finally penned a three-year deal with Qatari outfit Al Sadd in 2015. “I signed the contract in Qatar in February 2015 (yet the move. Wasn’t formally announced by the club until May), so I had time to acclimatise myself to the idea of this change in my life,” he explained. “But yes, of course, you always feel sad and nostalgic.”

“I’ve been a ‘Culé’ (Barça supporter) all my life, so it was always going to be a difficult decision to make. It was a well thought through decision that I made together with my family, my wife and my close circle. I’m very happy with the decision because I’m enjoying playing football in Qatar and being with my family, plus I am starting a new stage in my career because I am training to be a coach. It was a great decision and one that I will never regret,” he adds.

Recently Xavi showed his former club exactly what they’re missing by converting a spectacular volley for Al Sadd.

By: 
Claire Bloomfied

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