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Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta: From Fuentealbilla With love

“You will retire me, but Iniesta will retire us both”, said Pep Guardiola, “the best player in the world; whenever Iniesta is on the pitch, he creates a spectacle” said Samuel E’too. Two Quotes from people, who have had the opportunity and some would say privilege to have seen Andres Iniesta at close quarters. Born in Fuentealbilla in the region of Albacete in south eastern spain,Andres Iniesta Lujan precocious talent were spotted at the age of 12 by Barcelona scouts playing for Albacete in the Brunette Tournament.

The scouts, convinced a young Iniesta and his parents that Barcelona, more specifically La Masia was the perfect environment for a player of Iniesta ability to fully realise his potential that was in 1996, fast forward sixteen years and we are now seeing what those Barcelona scouts sawall those years ago on that faithful day. According to Iniesta himself ”he cried rivers the day he left for La Masia” and he struggled being away from his parents so much so that he would keep to himself and not socialise with the other boys there, We all can sympathise with Iniesta situation when your separated from your parents and taken to a new environment at a really young age it can be frightening, but Iniesta dream was to make it in the Barcelona first team and he was willing to do whatever it took to achieve that dream.

If he was shy and very quiet off the pitch, on the pitch Iniesta natural skill and qualities on and off the ball stood out;so much so that he progressed rapidly through the youth ranks at Barcelona where in the 2000-01 season he was promoted to the Barcelona B team. Was he satisfied with that? no of course not and he carried on where he left off and in October 2002 in a Champion League game against Bruges Andres Iniesta Lujan, the shy, humble young player from Fuentealbilla, Albacete achieved his ambition, he was picked to play in the game and the verdict was unanimous Iniesta made a excellent impression and on that night in Belgium a star was born.

From that night in 2002, Iniesta never looked back, now a core member of the Barcelona first team Iniesta story is one of guts, determination and a will to achieve one’s goals. I remember when i first saw Iniesta, he came on as a substitute for Spain when they played England in Februrary 2007 Iniesta scored the winning goal a beautifully hit long range shot which hit the under side of the bar and went in i was in awe because as a amateur player myself i have lost count the amount of times i have tried to score a goal like that the technique, precision and quality of the strike were just sublime.

Iniesta’s profile has gradually risen due to his instrumental performances for the Spanish national team for whom he helped win the 2010 World cup in South Africa by scoring the winning goal, a goal which was another example of his sublime technique and natural balance.Moreover to helping Barcelona win the 2009 Champions League Final by providing the pass for Samuel Etoo’o to score the first goal as Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0. Although injured, Iniesta greatly influenced the game so much so that Alex Ferguson was quoted as saying, “I’m not obsessed with Messi, Iniesta is the danger. He’s fantastic. He makes the team work. The way he finds passes, his movement and ability to create space is incredible. He’s so important for Barcelona. In my opinion Andres Iniesta, is one of the most gifted and Technically brilliant players I have been fortunate to see play, I would even go as far as to say he is the perfect player he can attack or defend, he can use both feet, his technique and balance are simply sublime, he is un-selfish and is willing to play anywhere for the team, he has excellent close control and although not as fast with the ball as Messi, Iniesta possesses astonishing acceleration with the ball at his feet, his awareness of space and football brain are second to none, his vision is excellent, he knows when to slow down and when to quicken the tempo, and if thats not enough Iniesta has a knack of scoring important goals on a regular basis such as his last-minute injury time goal against Chelsea in 2009 which saw Barcelona through to a Champions League Final against Manchester United”.

You would think that a Player such as Andres Iniesta having achieved so much in his career would relax or take his foot of the gas? well that is what good players do, but Iniesta is not a good player he is an Exceptionally gifted footballer whose overall stock is increasing due to his persona off the pitch as well as his footballing talent on it. In an age where players are constantly in the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons, Andres Iniesta Lujan is a perfect role model for any up and coming young player.

At 27, Iniesta has the world at his feet, it amazes me that we have not seen the best of Iniesta yet because he is still growing and improving as a player, I wonder what the future holds for Barcelona’s Unsung Hero? that shy young boy from Fuentealbilla, Albacete who has now become one of the core members of the most successful club side in the modern era? well only time will tell I guess.

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