After leading the Spanish National Team to three consecutive major international titles, Barcelona and Spanish legend Xavi Hernandez has called time on his international career. The midfield maestro leaves the international stage with over a hundred caps for Spain and hitting the back of the net over ten times. He has developed a reputation as a pass master and the brain behind Barcelona and Spain's famous 'Tiki-Taka' football that has brought a lot of success, glory and joy not just to the National Team but the entire nation.
Xavi started his career in Barcelona's famous La Masia Academy at the age of 11 years old in 1991 and moved through the ranks. He was promoted to the B Team at the start of the 1997/1998 season where he impressed and by the following season in 1998 he was given his competitive debut in the first team against Mallorca under Louis van Gaal. He featured intermitently in the first team but after a string of impressive performances he became a regular under van Gaal. Due to his displays, the 5ft 7in midfielder had 26 appearances in his debut season with the first team. He was named 1999 La Liga Breakout Player of the Year.
Xavi took his opportunities with both hands and continued to impress in the following years even though he was used in a more defensive role. He developed his game and quickly became a fan favourite and became Barcelona's playmaker in the 1999/2000 season after principal playmaker Pep Guardiola picked up an injury. The young midfielder also made it to the World Cup in 2002 held in Korea/Japan. Xavi continued to improve and became a very important part of the team that he was named vice captain in the 2004/2005 season.
He received a major set back in the 2005/2006 seaon under Frank Rijkaard when he tore ligaments in his left knee during training which kept him out of action for most of the season but came back in time to be named on the bench in Barcelona's 2-1 triumph over Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League Final. He then led Spain to glory at Euro 2008 as he was named as Player of the Tournament leading from the front with his unique style of play.
Under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, Xavi was made the chief dictator of the new style implemented by the former player. Due to his new role, he was called the 'cerebral dictator' by many experts in Spain. This new style was centred around ball retention, movement and control. This was perhaps the best he has played in all his life. He formed a formidable partnership in midfield with Andres Iniesta and along with Lionel Messi they are referred to as the 'Holy Trinity.'
Xavi is known for his exceptional technical ability, great ball control, good balance and excellent distribution of the ball. His vision wa such that he was compared to the Chameleon because he could pick a pass no one could see or even dear to try. The accuracy of his passing and his natural ability to get pass players also made it exciting to watch him play. Everything went through him and he commanded the ball in any situation and his composure is out of this world.
Xavi was very instrumental in Barcelona capturing the 2009 and 2011 Champions League as well as Spain dominance lifting the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro Championship. He was disappointing at the 2014 World Cup in which Spain was eliminated in the group stages and faced much criticism from the Spanish media. He may have passed his best but Xavi was very important for Spain. His presence would drive fear in many opponents.
Despite leaving the international scene on a low, Xavi is still perhaps the best Spanish midfielder of all time. He transformed the way midfield players should play and his passing accuracy is something everyone tries to emulate. The cerebral dictator was the main man in Spain's domination. It will be a tough task to replace a man who at timees was even more important than the manager accoring to Vicente del Bosque.
He was an influential figure in the dressing room and he is a true professional. He has enjoyed great success during his time as a player for both Barcelona and Spain. He is certainly a player that young players can look up to as a person and a player. Chameleon Eyes can now focus solely on his work with Barcelona as he hangs up his boots after a gliterring international career and a wonderful reputation