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The combination of touch, the vision of the game and, above all, the undeniable connection that they achieved with other players with whom they shared court, made Xavi and Iniesta the 'Zipi and Zape' of Spanish football. Now that the manchego leaves the club where they both shared laughter and ball, the Catalan has written an emotional, and long, open letter:
“Open letter from Xavi to Iniesta
I still remember the first time I saw play at Andrés, I was in the youth: he, in the children's, someone from the club says to me: 'Xavi, there's a boy down there who's going to be the host. There is him and another, Troiteiro, who is like Mario Rosas, Andrés looks a lot like you. “But when I saw him play, I said to myself:” What's going on! This does not look like me as they say! No way! This is different! ' This has more output, more dribbling, you can go to a band, is able to make a croquette? It's very different from me because I play four, much more positional, like Pep in his time or Busi now. Andrés, on the other hand, could play 'four', 'eight', 'six' and even extreme. Even as a child he was seen as a master because of the way he used the body before receiving the ball, using both legs to play. Now it may seem normal, but at that time it was revolutionary because he was doing a control oriented with the right leg that the next move was executed with the left. What surprised him most was his style of orienting the ball with his body, without even needing to touch it.
You saw him play and it was a spectacle. What you thought outside, he did in the field. It seemed that I even listened to your thoughts. Then he did it so naturally that it seemed he did not even think about it. Andrés was associated well, always played with his head up, did not lose balls? That is, concepts that we had been working with Joan Vilà for years and that he had been involved in his body from the beginning. 'Fuck, he's four years younger than us, but this guy has it innate.'
Andrés is, for me, the most talented player in the history of Spain, that I've seen, eh ?. He has a spectacular talent. If we talk about the person, it is a scandal. An admirable uncle in every way. Exemplary, altruistic, empathetic, team player, winner, leader in the field, always wants the ball? Do people know what that means? When many do not want the ball or paint because it is a trap, he always asks for it. Andrés always loves her. When other players think “ay, ay, ay” or “no, do not give it to me, please, not now”, Andrés would come and say: “Come, give it to me, give it to me now, please”.
It is a blessing for others. That's having personality, that's being a true leader. Silent leader, but authentic leader. I, who all my life have been a passer, needed players like Andres, like Leo, like Busi? You have been the best partners I have ever had. They always gave you the right output, no matter how bad the picture was. I do not know where, but Andrés always showed up at the right time. . 'Look at me I'm here!' But he did not tell me talking. We have not been talking much in the field either and that we have played together for more than 10 years. Was not necessary to. We understood each other with our eyes. His body language was the best way to communicate. It is also true that Andrés has left the purely academic. Sometimes, during games, we would watch him. 'But what the hell have you done? How has it escaped? If it was impossible! ' It seemed that there were no impossible things for him when he connected with the ball. Dodge, last pass, acceleration, wall, imbalance, is happy playing inside, is happy stuck to the band? He is a teacher, a true teacher.
Also, people believed that Andres was not strong. 'That if you were little thing!' That if you were weak! Flimsy?' Not much less. When he puts the body, they do not remove the ball. It is strong, but really strong. Look at the number of matches he has played in his career. He has been exemplary even in this. In the end, the mentality is the key to everything. And he has been very strong in everything, especially in those bad times that many do not know. He had a hard time living far from his family and now, surely, if asked they will say that the sacrifice was worth it. But who knew this would end like this? Who would guarantee it? No one. Is it so hard, so hard, so complicated, so long? The most normal thing is not to arrive. But that mentality is so strong that has gotten here.
In the end, Andrés is an uncle who has an angel. Do not ask me why, but he has it. It's like Iker Casillas. The rest do not have it; they Yes. They have an angel because at the right moment they take you out of the hat the winning pass, the winning stop, the winning ball, the winning goal? We have lived with Andrés in Barça, in the national team. In Stamford Bridge, in Johannesburg, even in that children's final in Camp Nou, when I went to see him with Pep, we were both in the first team, scoring the golden goal in that game. Look what happened in the World Cup. If someone has time and you want to watch the match against Holland. No, I'm not just talking about the goal. If you review the final you will realize what you really did. But why did Andrés score the goal? Because he had to mark it. It could not be another. Who could it be? Someone with angel. That is, Andrés. An honest person, a real worker.
And remember now they said we could not play together? You know, machine. This is Barça! A club full of debates. I felt bad for him because I always said that I need people who associate with me. I understand myself better with those of technical quality, than with physicists. Of course, those strong players are important, but look at Andres, Leo and Busi? I fucked those debates in which it was said that Barca needed muscle. But what are you telling me! The most important muscle to play soccer is the brain, as Cruyff said. It is the most important and valuable. It is true that we both suffer in silence. We are both very quiet. That's why I'm very in tune with Andrés. I'm like him I prefer to silence and impose where I should, in the field: 'Ok, come three new players, then perfect? I'm going fucking mother! I'm going to compete with those three even if they cost 250 million pesetas! I'm going to prove that I can be a Barça player! ' That is the mentality that Andrés had in his day or that of Busi, for example, with Yaya Touré. He who does not think like that, comes down. There are two options: to rebel like we did or fall into discouragement thinking that you will not get out of this.
I remember, for example, what happened to him just before the World Cup in South Africa. We were training in the sports city one day when, suddenly, I heard Puyol shout: 'Nooooooooooo?!' I did not know what had happened, but when I turned around I saw him coming out of the shattered field, crying, downcast. He did not come out of an injury and another came.
There were doubts even that he would reach the World Cup, but he ended up surpassing it thanks to that strong mentality. I do not forget that talk in the Monaco dressing room, after the Super Cup final that we won with Pedro's goal. 'Andrés, uncle, we need you. Are you very important here? Very very very? It can not be that you continue like this, Andrés. Barça can not afford you not playing, uncle. We really need you. It's that you're different. When you're not a machine, it costs us twice as much. Believe it, Andrés, please, believe it because we believe it that way. We need you!' See that I'm not open to much, but we all saw that Andrew was in a kind of existential crisis, in those months where all the bad things coincided.
But he, with the help of his family, He turned everything around thanks to that incredible mentality. Sometimes, I have the feeling that Andrés can not be explained in words as a player. It makes everything so easy that you think everyone can do it. Lie! Nobody can do it like him. In the field, it is transformed. There his true personality appears. It is your natural habitat. It is a vicious of the ball. If you do not touch it, it is not happy. I do not remember a big match in which he has not appeared. I do not remember it because it does not exist. Andrés is always there. Besides, I've never seen you raise your voice. Never. When he complained he did it with respect, with arguments, but without screaming or shouting. Even that is an example. He has always put the team ahead of individuality, something that is not easy because we all have our ego.
I still remember the Champions of 2006 when I broke the crusader and he took full responsibility. He played half-center, yes, half-center! in Lisbon and Milan. What a spectacle he gave there! We reached the final in Paris and Rijkaard does not put him in the starting line. When I find out, I tell Puyi: 'Do not you play, Andrés, nano? It does not play, does it play? But how is it that he does not play? ' Then, Puyi answers me: 'I do not know, I do not know'? In fact, no one knew it, nor did he understand it because he had come from making real matches in Lisbon and Milan. When he appeared in the second part, everything changed. He put things in order. In his way, of course. Calladito, without saying anything, but, together with Larsson and Samuel, they changed the final. Surely on the inside he was pissed off, but the first thing he did was to think about the group and the team. That anger helped him to be even better. Another would have thrown the boots in the locker room or would have reacted badly. He does not. That makes him stronger. With his style, without saying a word, but demonstrating in the field that they had been wrong with him. That is Andrew. Now that I'm half out of elite football you realize what it has been, what it is and what it represents. When he leaves Barça, he will understand what I say. He has won everything, he has played incredible, he is respected by everyone and admired by the world. He goes out as he deserves, is an example because he never had a bad word, a bad gesture, a bad face? Look how they want it everywhere. Soon you will know what you have really done, machine? “