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Ten Things You Should Know About...Xavi
He's the visionary playmaker of the incomparable F.C. Barcelona and all conquering Spain team. He's known for intricate and rapid passing. But what else? Here's ten things you should know about...XAVI
#1. He was born Xavier Hernadez i Creus on the 25 January 1980 in the town of Terrassa, Spain.
It was the same day that Paul McCartney was released from a Tokyo prison and deported having been found with a bag of marijuana.
#2. Xavi won the World soccer Player of the Year in 2010. He also won the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker title from 2008 to 2011. He come third in the Ballon d’Or 2009 to 2011. He has also made the FIFA and UEFA all star teams from 2008 to 2012.
He is also a two time recipient of the Prince of Asturias award for Sport (2010,2012). This award was established in 1980"to consolidate links between the Principality and the Prince of Asturias, and to contribute to encouraging and promoting scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of mankind's universal heritage”.
The first winner was another sporting legend: Seb Coe.
#3.Pepe Guardiola, one time manager of the Catalan giants stated in 2008 that:
"Xavi is a player who has the Barcelona DNA, someone who has the taste for good football, someone who is humble and someone who has loyalty to this club. From the first moment I saw him play, I knew he would become the brain behind Barcelona for many years to come. He plays very, very well... much better than I ever played even when I was at my best."
High praise, but well justified.
#4.His father, Joaquim, was a former player for Sabadell. He never reached the heights of his son but has been key to his success.
#5. Xavi “The Puppet Master”. It is a nickname that is well suited. If ever there was a player who controlled a game of football then that player is Xavi.
"That's what I do: look for spaces. All day. I'm always looking".
He is able to sublimely dictate the ebb and flow of the game.Short pass. Quick pass. Accuracy the hallmark of his work. Nothing is wasted. Elegant and spare. Imperious.
#6. Xavi made his debut for Spain on 26 March 2005, in Salamanca, against China in a 3-0 friendly victory. His competitive debut came on 6 September 2006 in a narrow 3-2 way win against Northern Ireland in a Euro 2008 qualifying match.
#7. Xavi is very protective of his private life and tends to shun the public limelight. However on 13 July 2013 he was centre stage as he and his girlfriend, Nuria Cunillera, wed at the Castell de Sant Joan de Blanes. The ceremony was attended by many of his Barcelona and Spain team mates.
#8. Some players flatter to deceive. Xavi is not one of them. He delivers and delivers big style. He has won more titles than any other Spanish player. Just take a look:
La Liga (1998-99; 04-05; 05-06; 08-09; 09-10; 10-11; 12-13)
Copa del Rey (08-09; 11-12)
Supercopa (05; 06; 09; 10; 11; 13)
Champions League (05-06; 08-09; 10-11)
Super Cup (09; 11)
Club world Cup (09; 11)
World Cup (2010)
European Championships (08; 12)
#9.Bill Shankly, famed Liverpool manager, used to say that football was a simple game and it is when played well. Xavi is the epitome, and it is worth listening when he speaks: "You cannot defend in a real game. You can cover me, but once the ball comes to my feet, boom! I advance. And the defender? Impossible! This is why they can not defend. I am not privileged to be physical, so I have to think fast. And that speed is more important than physical speed now."
#10. Xavi was central to Barcelona beating Manchester United in two Champions League finals. United found it impossible to cope with the high speed, intricate passing game of the Catalans.
Sir Alex Ferguson commented that “I don’t think Iniesta and Xavi have ever given up the ball in their lives.They get you on that carousel and they can leave you dizzy.”
And here's one more to make it a footballing eleven:
In 2008 Xavi was voted player of the Euro 2008 Championships. Andy Roxburgh, in charge of the UEFA technical committee, summed up it up perfectly:
"We have chosen Xavi because he epitomizes the Spanish style of play. He was influential in the whole possession, passing and penetrating kind of game that Spain played,"