After 21 years of professional football, a World Cup triumph, four UEFA Champions League trophies, and a back-to-back UEFA Euro accomplishment, 39-year-old Xavi Hernández has decided to call it quits after the end of the 2018-’19 season. The Spanish maestro is currently wrapping up the season in Qatar, playing his fourth season for Al Sadd of the city of Doha.
For the Arabic side he has scored 21 goals in 82 matches while captaining the team, has collected four trophies; three in 2017 (Sheikh Jassim Cup, Qatar Cup, and Qatar Emir Cup), and the Qatar Stars League title in the current season. In addition he has been serving since 2015 as Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup ambassador, and has revealed plans to coach in the direct future.
However, what he will always be remembered for will not be his accomplishments in the Middle East.
For football fans, the post-Rijkaard-and-Ronaldinho era of Barcelona will always mean one of the greatest novelties for the history of the sport. From 2008 until the mid-2010s, Barcelona emerged as one of the top three most feared clubs in the world, due to the revolutionary tiki-taka and the possession of perhaps the greatest player ever, Lionel Messi.
What stood at the core of the team, was the Iniesta-Xavi duo, which kept the blaugrana engine oiled and pumping to win two UEFA Champions League trophies in three years, and a third for the group in 2015. They also dominated domestically, pocketing five La Liga titles, and three Copa Del Rey trophies.
Xavi’s unmistakable game of passing and crossing was only matched by his compatriot, Andrés Iniesta, who made the translation of the tiki-taka into the Spanish national team not only easy, but historically important. For Spain, Xavi was imperative in winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and consecutive titles in the UEFA Euros of Austria/Switzerland (2008) and Poland/Ukraine (2012). The achievements propelled the Spanish side to the top of football’s history, and Xavi as one of the greatest engineers that kept a fearsome side going for almost a decade.
After the confirmation of his retirement, Barcelona’s manager, Ernesto Valvderde, backed Xavi’s aspirations to coach the Catalan side one day, while expressing his appreciation of the Spanish national’s weight in the history of the sport. Xavi will be always remembered as one of the greatest to have ever touched the ball, but may add more to his trophy cabinet while directing the game as the head of the bench.
For advertising and sponsorship opportunities with The Game Changer Sports Network please contact Jake at Jake.Jollymore@gmail.com
Cover photo: uefa.com