Although Barcelona could complete a famous treble this season, they will also be saying goodbye to a club legend after the Champions League final on the 6th of June. Xavi Hernandez will be joining Qatari side Al Sadd, and this is after an astonishing 765 appearances over 17 trophy laden years at Barcelona. Xavi will be desperate to complete the treble and add 2 more trophies to his haul before packing his bag, but regardless of what happens in their 2 finals it will be a special and emotional moment for all those attached to Barcelona football club.
Xavi is widely regarded to be one of the all-time great midfielders and has been integral to Barca’s dominance in modern times. He can effortlessly command the central areas of the pitch, and his abilities in this area and phenomenal vision and passing ability have earned him the nickname “The Puppet Master”. Along with Messi, Iniesta and Busquets, this group of players mastered the tiki-taka style of play and this team is widely considered to be one of the best to ever play the game.
It has been a phenomenal 17 years for Xavi Hernandez, who recently made his final Nou Camp appearance and was unable to hold back his tears in an emotional moment. His work at Barcelona is not quite finished yet though, and he has the opportunity to go out on an extremely high note should they complete (another) famous treble.
Here are 10 facts about the midfield maestro and Barcelona legend, Xavi Hernandez.
He joined the club as an 11 year old in 1991
Xavi was born in Barcelona and is a product of their La Masia youth system. He has been at the Nou Camp since he was 11 years old, making his way through youth and reserve teams before making his first-team debut appearance in a friendly against Southampton in 1998.
He scored in his competitive first-team debut
The 1998/99 season marked the beginning of a very long and successful Barcelona career, with Xavi finding the back of the net in his competitive debut against RCD Mallorca in the Super Cup final. In his debut campaign, Xavi made 26 appearances and was an important part of Louis Van Gaal’s title winning team. At the end of the season he was awarded the 1999 La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year.
He will become an ambassador for the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup
On May 21st, Xavi announced that he would be joining Al Sadd at the end of the season on a 3 year contract. In addition to joining the Qatari side, the deal also sees Xavi become an ambassador for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Xavi will also start his coaching qualifications as well according to his agent.
He has a wife, Nuria Cunillera, but they keep their personal life private.
Xavi married his partner, fashion journalist Nuria Cunillera, in 2013 at a ceremony that was attended by the majority of his Barca teammates. There is not too much information about the couple as it appears they both prefer to keep their personal lives out of the spotlight and away from the media. The couple had been dating since Spain’s victory in Euro 2012.
He has excelled for country as well as club
It is not just Barcelona who will be missing Xavi Hernandez, as he has also been integral to Spain’s success in recent times too. For country, Xavi has helped his team to 1 FIFA World Cup and 2 UEFA European Football Championships, as well as a silver medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics. He was named player of the tournament at Euro 2008, he provided the most number of accurate passes in the 2010 World Cup, had a pass completion rate of 94% in Euro 2012 and made 133 appearances in 14 years for the national side.
He became the 1st player to register assists in 2 separate Euro finals
Xavi is the pass master, and over the years he has registered dozens of assists for both club and country. At Euro 2008, Xavi provided the assist for the only goal (Torres) in the final when Spain emerged victorious over Germany. Xavi would make history 4 years later by becoming the 1st player to register assists in 2 separate Euro finals, and he did it in style too by setting up 2 goals in their convincing 4-0 victory over Italy.
He has won FIFA Ballon d’Or of the Year 3rd Place 3 times
Xavi has been one of the best players in the world for a long time, and he has won FIFA Ballon d’Or of the Year 3rd Place 3 times (2009, 2010 and 2011). Whilst this is an impressive achievement, it must also be frustrating finishing 3rd place (with teammate Messi winning all 3). There is no denying the brilliance of Messi, but due to Xavi playing in the centre of midfield and pulling the strings instead of scoring the goals he perhaps sometimes gets overlooked.
He was been awarded the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker award 4 times
Each year the International Federation of Football History & Statistics give an award to who they deem to be the best playmaker in the world that year, and Xavi has collected the award a stunning 4 times. Not just this, but this was in 4 consecutive years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and this demonstrates his incredible dominance during this period. The award has only been in existence since 2006, with Xavi’s midfield partner Iniesta the only other player to win more than 1 award (2012, 2013).
No Spanish player has won more trophies than he has
When Spain lifted the Euro 2012 title, Xavi lifted his 23rd trophy in total. No Spanish player has lifted more trophies than this, having overtaken Paco Gento who had 22. Xavi has played a key role in both the Barcelona and Spanish team, and will go down as a legend and loyal servant who brought a huge amount of success to both teams whilst playing an entertaining brand of football. Xavi of course has the opportunity to add 2 more to his tally before joining Al Sadd at the end of the season.
He has lifted 23 trophies in his 17 seasons at Barcelona
Barcelona have won a staggering amount in modern times, and Xavi has been integral to all of this. Messi may get most of the plaudits, but Xavi’s abilities in the middle of the park are immensely valuable and it has been a full team effort to lift so many trophies. Xavi’s haul, which he can add another 2 to by the end of the season, include 8 La Liga titles, 2 Copa Del Rey’s and 3 Champions League titles plus plenty more.