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Andres Iniesta is the Unobtrusive Jewel That Outshone the Rest in Barcelona’s Crown

Almost a decade ago, everything in and around Andres Iniesta, the Barcelona number 8, seemed to be in ‘freefall' as he was vulnerable. According to Andres Iniesta‘s book 'The Artist', it was not depression but nothing seemed right. The scorer of the winning goal at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Iniesta kept things under wraps and simple as he sought professional help, the right thing to do according to him, also a habit he had inculcated over the years much to the dismay of scores of defenders

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:May 7, 2018, 12:24 PM IST
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Andres Iniesta is the Unobtrusive Jewel That Outshone the Rest in Barcelona’s Crown
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Almost a decade ago, everything in and around Andres Iniesta, the Barcelona number 8, seemed to be in ‘freefall' as he was vulnerable. According to Andres Iniesta‘s book 'The Artist', it was not depression but nothing seemed right. The scorer of the winning goal at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Iniesta kept things under wraps and simple as he sought professional help, the right thing to do according to him, also a habit he had inculcated over the years much to the dismay of scores of defenders.

In the new season, after the much awaited 2018 FIFA World Cup, it will take more than a few games to get used to the fact that Andres Iniesta will not be lining-up in the Barcelona colours, and it is unlikely that he will come up against them, as he won‘t remain in Europe since he cannot bring himself to stand against his own side, or in this case dissect their defences with unerring accuracy.

After putting the seal on the 25th La Liga title against Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor, Barcelona celebrated their double in typical fashion – an open bus parade, where one of the most striking images was Iniesta and Lionel Messi together looking down at the cheering fans – the combination will not be active together in competition anymore after this season – the thought will most certainly wipe the colour off of any football fan’s face, including that of the said players. This was Iniesta’s 35th title overall with the Catalan giants, whom he joined in September 1996.

When Iniesta scored against Sevilla in an absolute masterclass of a performance to help his side to yet another title in the Copa del Rey final at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, Lionel Messi held him in a tight embrace that embodied the realisation of the inevitable farewell. In 'The Artist', Messi revealed how he is more comfortable and at ease with Iniesta closer to him, especially during the tough times. The Argentine wizard, who is oft with good reason considered out-worldly, will not have Iniesta to turn to for help anymore.

Iniesta, though not the most prolific goal scorer, did not find the net in his final El Clasico at the Nou Camp and was in fact substituted close to the hour mark, but time and again he sucked the Real Madrid defenders out of position, only to spread the attack. The iconic venue that is the Nou Camp paid homage to Iniesta, as Sergio Ramos and co. breathed a sigh of relief to see his back.

Similar to the Nou Camp impressive and rousing reception, the maestro was afforded standing ovations at the Wanda Metropolitano against Sevilla and then at the Riazor.

Iniesta, who wants to be remembered as a good player and person, is a man of few words. It's on the field of play, where he does the talking with the ball. The number 8 always has that extra couple of seconds on the ball, and invites pressure. Some who know him at close quarters assume that it is because he believes and is aware deep down that he is better than the rest.

"My teammates would have an easier life if I always had five men on me," Iniesta once famously said. Whilst most of the game sees players are looking to escape the opposition catch them off guard, here is a player who would rather do the opposite in the search of the same result, and it would not be noticed as easily as a Luis Suarez dive or a piece of absolute brilliance from Lionel Messi.

Aged 15, Iniesta became the proud owner of a signed Pep Guardiola photograph. The latter once told Xavi, that Iniesta would ‘retire them both’, heaped more praise and said that the midfielder helped him understand the game better.

At the U-15 level in a tournament, Iniesta was told he had two days left in the game by a coach.

Before that, his parents drove him to La Masia in a Ford Orion, and he cried uncontrollably in the initial stages as he felt abandoned. Things would definitely have been different had his mother Mari Antonio not decided to go against his father’s wishes of taking him back home, as neither bear with the separation.

The man, who plays his football with the simplest of thought processes and has panned out the play intuitively in his head well before the actual move, has more than surprised many with his nonchalant and polite ways of hurting the enemy.

Iniesta refuses to overstay his welcome at Barcelona even though he signed a ‘lifetime’ contract with the club last year.

The young boy who supposedly had two days left in the game in his early teens could have waited a year or more to reach this juncture if he had wanted, but the timing of the decision throws light on the greatness of the man. Iniesta bids farewell on his terms.

The Nou Camp’s final chance to say, 'Gracias Senor Andres Iniesta' will be on May 22nd against Real Sociedad.

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| Edited by: Madhav Agarwal
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