In creative athletes like Andres Iniesta, whose grace and mastery in possession can transport you to a fantasy world, perseverance is the trait that is least praised.
When he was at his best, the Spaniard was an artist’s fantasy, creating magical pass after spectacular pass in confined quarters nearly every weekend at Camp Nou.
And yet, Alvaro Recoba, the charismatic Uruguayan who was never able to realize his enormous potential, could not compare to him due to his willingness to engage in a brawl. Barcelona might have lost the 2009 Champions League semifinal match at Stamford Bridge if it weren’t for Iniesta’s tenacity and cool-as-ice finishing at the very end. To clinch the historic triple under Pep Guardiola, the Catalans defeated Manchester United in the championship game.
However, Rome would have witnessed an all-England Champions League final in 2009 if not for Iniesta’s 93rd-minute goal in a contentious semifinal against Chelsea.
A cynical Dutch team threatened to force the loose-lipped Spaniards to the penalty spot in the 2010 World Cup final a year later.
But Iniesta came through once more, scoring with a stunning volley in the 116th minute of a lung-busting struggle to end Spain’s lengthy wait for the World Cup crown.
Iniesta, one of the greatest midfielders in history, is nearing the end of an illustrious career.
However, the 39-year-old still has some life in his legs to throw a couple more passes that split the defense and struck the opponent’s heart.
A monk’s endurance
After the contract signing ceremony on Wednesday, Iniesta lingered in the crowded hall of the Intercontinental Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah for a while. He never failed to nod and gesture to the young people who flocked to see the legendary footballer in large numbers.
Before ever kicking a ball in a nation where he intends to use football to change the world, Iniesta was gaining new fans. He was still patient enough to participate in a few last-minute one-on-one media interviews.
He listened to the question and, with the aid of a translation, responded in brief, concise terms without showing even the slightest sign of displeasure.
giving them direction
It is clear why he has a soft spot for children given that he and his wife recently welcomed their fifth child.
Children play a significant role in Iniesta’s soccer initiative in the UAE, a nation that aspires to qualify for the expanded 48-team World Cup in 2026.
“I have observed many young children here who are football fans. According to Iniesta, they represent the future.
The midfield magician aims to teach the young players at the club’s academy the Spanish style of playing football in addition to helping Emirates Club compete for championships in UAE local football competitions. He continued, “It’s crucial to train them properly and instill in them the principles of football.”
The ‘tiki-taka’ style, the exciting short passing sequences that Barcelona and Spain famously unleashed that nearly turned the opposition players into spectators, is obviously the values of football he is talking to. We will try to share this with the children here because it is how we do things in Spain.
Recollections of Barca
When this writer questioned him about his trophy-laden years in Barcelona, when he helped Barca reinvent offensive football alongside his illustrious former teammates Xavi and Lionel Messi, there was finally a gleam in his eye.
“My recollections of Barcelona, what can I say? Iniesta, who won nine La Liga and four Champions League championships with Barcelona, said, “I mean, that’s where I lived the finest times of my life, winning a lot of trophies, and enjoying football at its best.
“I enjoyed the teammates I played with as well as the people (at the club).”
SOURCE: KHALEEJ TIMES