The playmaker of the the finest European club side, Xavi Hernandez is the heartbeat that makes the team tick. He is the very embodiment of what Barcelona stand for – artful, loves the club through and through and plays football that is pleasing to the eye.
He is the playmaker extraordinaire of his beloved FC Barcelona and perennial underachievers, Spain. Underachievers, that is, before World Cup 2010. The catalyst in bringing Spain to the top of the world game, the player who turned the country’s footballing ambitions around in Euro 2008 and subsequently won the player of the tournament, Xavi is what many people in footballing terms would call ‘the unsung hero’.
One of the most modest footballers in today’s game, Xavi has never been one to steal the limelight. Not that he wants it. He is happy to sit in the background while others take home the plaudits. It is typical of him to brush off the praise directed at him and just get on with the game. He is a rare breed of footballers these days, interested in playing the beautiful game with a smile on his face and not in the lucrative side of the sport.
But beneath that cool exterior is a genius footballer. Always willing to take on extra responsibility, he tends to find space where none seemingly exists. His footballing abilities are a mix of technique, skill, vision and practice. Always demanding the ball, he already has a vision of where to spray the ball even before he touches it. It is said that the difference between good players and great players is that the great ones paint a very vivid picture in their head of what is in front of them. Xavi certainly has long entered into the latter category.
What makes this footballer so unique is that not only is his vision exemplary, but his free-kick technique is right up there with the specialists. He has shown moments of sheer class from dead ball situations and can conjure up something out of seemingly nothing.
He set the record for most passes made and completed in World Cup history during Spain’s run to the title. A staggering 669 passes attempted out of which he completed 599, an astonishing pass completion rate of 89%. He rarely, if ever, loses possession and oozes confidence which helps his team mates settle into the game during times of pressure.
His coach Pep Guardiola said, “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.”
One of the finest midfielders of his generation, he has graced the beautiful game with his superior vision and calm demeanor. When the chips are down on the football pitch, you can bet your life that Xavi Hernandez won’t be found wanting. Hats off to the man.