Barça fans have long stated that Iniesta has been one of their best players for the past few season and also argued that he should be up there with the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. With Iniesta winning Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament award, he has earned the right to be considered one of the current great players in the world.
Us Barça fans have been blessed for the past decade with some great players. When Frank Rijkaard was named manager of the club back in 2003-2004 season, many of the young youth players were given their chance to impress. One of them was our own Iniesta who had made his debut under Louis van Gaal the year before. Under Rijkaard, the young player with the number 24 on his back impressed Barça fans and allowed us to brag that although Arsenal had Cesc, Barça had Iniesta. Those claims would be backed up in the 2006 Champions League Final in Paris where his dazzling performance as a halftime substitute caught eyes. He was involved in the buildup on Eto’o’s goal for the equalizer with his pass to Henrik Larsson that resulted in the assist for the goal.
Unfortunately, Barça’s performance following that amazing night in Paris were ones to forget with the team struggling to win any domestic or European honors. However, during that time, we got to see the young Iniesta grow and dazzle us with his great vision and ball control while a young Messi was slowly starting to show us a glimpse of what he would become. Iniesta performance for the national team took off in Euro 2008 after only appearing in one game in the group stage in the 2006 World Cup.
His performances for club and country took off following Euro 2008 where helped Spain end their long drought for international success by being named on the Team of the Tournament and one of his highlights being setting up Xavi for the opening goal in the Semi-Finals against Russia. With Guardiola as his club manager, Barça won a historic treble, with Iniesta’s goal in the Champions League Semi-Final still fondly remembered by many Cules and was an inspiration for many baby deliveries in Barcelona hospitals nine months later. However, the best accolade he would receive came after Barça defeated Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League Final in Rome with United’s Wayne Rooney proclaimed that “Iniesta is the best player in the world at the moment.”
Since that magical season, Iniesta has done it all for club and country with the midfielder’s pinnacle moment being his goal in the World Cup Final that finally gave the title they had long waited for. For some, that moment would change players forever but Iniesta remained the same humble man who decided to celebrate that goal by taking off his jersey to reveal with a message written on his shirt to honor his fallen friend, Jarque.
There is no need to list his accomplishment over the years. You can see them on his Wikipedia page and his success on the pitch speaks for itself. He has been amazing and Guardiola saw that back when Iniesta was still a young lad. Graham Hunter’s book , Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World, mentioned the story of when Guardiola observed Iniesta’s talent for the first time during the 1999 Nike Cup. Guardiola presented Iniesta his medal and the trophy and told him, “One day I’ll be up in those stands watching you do what I do for Barça.” The story then goes on that he Guardiola told Xavi, “Xavi, you are going to replace me, but watch out for this young guy, because he’ll retire all of us.”
Without a doubt, Iniesta has been one of the greatest players to play for the club and it won’t be long before the rest of the world confesses that Iniesta is has been one of the greatest playmakers to play the sport with the likes of the Zidane, Scholes, Xavi, Pirlo, Platini and Maradona. The 28 year old still has many years ahead to continue to shine and impress and earn the accolades to be named up there with the best.
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