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Andrés Iniesta
Andrés Iniesta.jpg
Iniesta with Spain in 2017
Personal information
Full name Andrés Iniesta Luján[1]
Date of birth 11 May 1984 (age 34)
Place of birth Fuentealbilla, Spain
Height 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)[2]
Playing position Central midfielder
Club information
Current team
Vissel Kobe
Number 8
Youth career
1994–1996 Albacete
1996–2001 Barcelona
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2001–2003 Barcelona B 54 (5)
2002–2018 Barcelona 442 (35)
2018– Vissel Kobe 11 (2)
National team
2000 Spain U15 2 (0)
2000–2001 Spain U16 7 (1)
2001 Spain U17 4 (0)
2001–2002 Spain U19 7 (1)
2003 Spain U20 7 (3)
2003–2006 Spain U21 18 (6)
2004–2005 Catalonia 2 (0)
2006–2018 Spain 131 (13)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league
only and correct as of 3 November 2018
Andrés Iniesta Luján (Spanish pronunciation: [anˈdɾes iˈnjesta luˈxan];
born 11 May 1984) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a
central midfielder for Japanese club Vissel Kobe. He spent most of his
career at Barcelona, where he served as the captain for three seasons.
Iniesta came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, after an
early migration from his birthplace, and impressed from an early age. He
made his first-team debut aged 18 in 2002. He began playing regularly
during the 2004–05 season and remained in the team until 2018. Iniesta
was an integral part of the Barcelona sides that won two historic trebles
in 2009 and 2015, and his 33 trophies, which includes nine La Ligas and
four UEFA Champions League titles, make him the most decorated
Spanish footballer of all time.[3]

Iniesta played for Spain at the Under-16, Under-19 and Under-21 levels
before making his international debut in 2006. He helped Spain win
Euro 2008, playing every game and being selected in the Team of the
Tournament. Iniesta was also a key member of the victorious Spanish
team at the 2010 World Cup; he scored the winning goal in the final
against the Netherlands, for which he was named the Man of the Match,
and was selected to the tournament's All-Star Team. At Euro 2012,
Iniesta led Spain to their second consecutive continental crown, again
being chosen as the Man of the Match of the final against Italy, and was
named the Player of the Tournament.

Iniesta is widely considered to be one of the best players of his

generation and one of the greatest midfielders of all time.[4][5][6][7]
Since 2009, he has been named in the FIFA World XI nine times and
was chosen in the UEFA Team of the Year on six occasions. Iniesta won
the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2012 and was named the
IFFHS World's Best Playmaker in 2012 and 2013. He was runner-up to
Lionel Messi for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or and achieved third place in

1 Club career
1.1 Barcelona
1.1.1 Early career
1.1.2 2004–08
1.1.3 2008–09
1.1.4 2009–12
1.1.5 2013–18
1.2 Vissel Kobe
2 International career
2.1 2001–08
2.2 2008–12
2.3 2013–18
3 Style of play and reception
4 Media and sponsorship
5 Personal life
6 Career statistics
6.1 Club
6.2 International
6.3 International goals
7 Honours
7.1 Club
7.2 International
7.3 Individual
7.4 Decorations
8 See also
9 References
10 External links
Club career
Early career
Iniesta comes from Fuentealbilla, a small village in the province of
Albacete, Castile–La Mancha, Spain. At the age of 12, while playing for
Albacete Balompié in a junior seven-a-side tournament in Albacete, he
attracted the attention of scouts from clubs around Spain.[8] His parents
knew Barcelona's youth team coach, Enrique Orizaola, and he persuaded
them to consider sending Iniesta to the Barcelona youth academy. Iniesta
traveled there with his parents and visited La Masia, the farmhouse
where the club houses its young players; the trip convinced them to
enroll Iniesta in the Barcelona youth ranks.[9]
"Receive, pass, offer, receive, pass, offer."
—Iniesta on La Masia education of ball retention, passing and using
Iniesta says he "cried rivers" the day he left for La Masia and struggled
being separated from his parents;[11] he was very shy and kept to
himself while there.[12] He captained the Barcelona Under-15 team to
victory in the Nike Premier Cup of 1999, scoring the winning goal in the
last minute of the final, and was named player of the tournament. Just
after Iniesta arrived at the club, then-captain Pep Guardiola famously
told fellow midfielder Xavi: "You're going to retire me. This lad
[Iniesta] is going to retire us all."[4]


Iniesta with Barcelona in 2006.

In the 2004–05 season, Iniesta featured in 37 out of 38 league games—
more than any other player—although 25 of these were substitute
appearances. He scored twice as Barcelona won La Liga.[13] An injury
to Xavi at the start of the 2005–06 season allowed Iniesta more regular
starts in the centre of midfield, and he continued to improve and
develop.[14] He played in 11 UEFA Champions League games,
including a half-time appearance in the 2006 final, to replace
Edmílson.[15] His contribution to the team was praised by manager
Frank Rijkaard as Barcelona won a league and Champions League
The 2006–07 season saw Iniesta's profile continue to rise and he earned
plaudits for his willingness to play in any position for his team. In the
pre-season, he lifted the Joan Gamper Trophy as the captain of the team
after a 4–0 victory over German side Bayern Munich. Iniesta played for
the first time as a left wing-forward for Barça in two Champions League
matches against Levski Sofia, finding the net twice. In the first knockout
stage of the same competition, he played in central midfield against
Liverpool. Despite being moved around the pitch by manager Rijkaard,
the 2006–07 season remains Iniesta's highest scoring thus far.

With the departure of Ludovic Giuly ahead of the 2007–08 campaign,

Iniesta was able to switch his number 24 shirt for his preferred number
8.[17] Despite rumours of a possible transfer before the season,[18] he
extended his contract to 2014 on 25 January 2008,[19] with his buy-out
clause being raised to €150 million.[20] Don Balón, a member of
European Sports Magazines, named Iniesta one of the most consistent
performers in the previous two seasons of La Liga; he placed fifth in
2006–07 and fourth in 2007–08.[21][22] He also placed ninth in the
2008 FIFA World Player of the Year voting, gaining 37 total points.[23]

At the start of the 2008–09 season, in September 2008, Iniesta was
elected the fourth-choice captain behind, in order of preference, Carles
Puyol, Xavi and Víctor Valdés; all four were products of the Barcelona
youth system.[24] His performances throughout the season were highly
lauded, and he received standing ovations both in Barcelona at the Camp
Nou, as well as from rival supporters in away matches.[25] A leg injury
sustained in mid-November 2008 left Iniesta sidelined until 3 January;
initially expected to return to action in six weeks, he did not want to
come back until he was 100 percent. Upon his return to action, as a 65th-
minute substitute against Mallorca, he scored a crucial goal after just ten
minutes on the pitch and completed a Barcelona comeback in front of
the Camp Nou.[26]

Iniesta sustained another injury during a home match against Málaga,

but returned to action for the first leg Champions League quarter-final
against Bayern Munich, which Barcelona won 4–0.[27] He scored a vital
equaliser in the final minute of stoppage time during the second leg of
the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, with a curling strike
with the outside of his right foot 25 yards from goal, securing the tie on
away goals as the match finished 1–1.[28] In the season review, Un Any
Al Paradis, Iniesta wrote, "I connected with that shot with the outside,
not the inside or the tip of my boot, but right from my heart, with all my

"I knew I would play injured and do more damage. For 17 days, all I
thought about was the final in Rome and winning, even knowing that I
would do more damage. I'd repeat it, for sure. I love this club and my
profession and I wanted to win. If we had lost the final that would have
been a total disaster."
—Iniesta on the victorious 2009 UEFA Champions League Final[30]
Iniesta's goal against Chelsea sent Barcelona through to the final in
Rome against defending champions Manchester United. Prior to the
final, United manager Alex Ferguson identified Iniesta as Barça's
biggest threat: "He's fantastic. He makes the team work. The way he
finds passes, his movement and ability to create space is incredible. He's
so important for Barcelona."[11] Despite a thigh injury, Iniesta played
and was influential in the game, providing the assist for the first goal
scored by Samuel Eto'o as his team went on to win 2–0.[31] In his
analysis, David Pleat wrote, "In the end the midfield artistry of Iniesta
and Xavi, helped by [Lionel] Messi, was the critical factor."[32] After
the game, United striker Wayne Rooney described Iniesta as the best
player in the world.[33]

Iniesta received plaudits for his performances that season; Don Balón
rated him as the league's most consistent performer.[34] Later that year,
he placed fifth for the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year award, with
134 votes,[35] and fourth for the Ballon d'Or, receiving 149 points.[36]
Barcelona extended his contract by one year, until 2015, and raised his
buy-out clause to €200 million.[37]

Barcelona won a second successive league title in the 2009–10 season,
securing a record 99 points. Individually, however, Iniesta endured a
campaign largely disrupted by recurring injuries. He missed pre-season
fitness training due to the thigh tear suffered in the 2009 Champions
League final.[38] Despite featuring in almost as many matches as the
previous season, he did so mostly as a substitute, starting only 20 games
throughout.[39] His season came to a premature end in April after he
aggravated a previous calf injury during training.[40]
Iniesta playing against Rubin Kazan in the UEFA Champions League,
October 2009.
A contributing factor of Iniesta's fractured season were the episodes of
psychological instability he suffered privately following the death of his
close friend Daniel Jarque, a fellow footballer, in August 2009. Even
when physically fit, he was often unable to complete training sessions or
exert himself. After seeking psychological help, he experienced catharsis
when he scored Spain's match-winning goal in the 2010 FIFA World
Cup final, which he dedicated to Jarque by revealing the message "Dani
Jarque, always with us" written on his undershirt.[41] "I did it because I
felt it deeply," Iniesta said at the time. "It showed that what is more
important than rivalry, your team or your colours is to be human and a
good person. I am delighted because it was the most important moment
in my career."[42] Regarding the recurrent injuries that plagued his
season, he said, "It was hard, but I will start with more desire than

Iniesta scored his first goal of the 2010–11 season during the opening
league fixture against Racing de Santander, lobbing the ball into the net
from a distance of 30 yards.[43] Throughout the campaign, he received
standing ovations from opposition fans, including at El Sardinero and
the Vicente Calderón Stadium, in appreciation of his World Cup-
winning goal.[44] Another standing ovation came on the home pitch of
Espanyol in the Derbi barceloní, with the crowd acknowledging his
friendship with Daniel Jarque, Espanyol's captain at the time of his
death.[45] Iniesta was one of the three finalists for the 2010 FIFA Ballon
d'Or alongside Xavi and Messi, placing as runner-up behind the

Iniesta started the 2011–12 season by scoring the opening goal in the
second leg of the Supercopa de España against rivals Real Madrid.
Barcelona went on to win the match 3–2 and the cup 5–4 on aggregate.
One of his best goals followed in October against Viktoria Plzeň in the
Champions League group stage after an interchange of passes with
Messi. Iniesta played a record 51 matches unbeaten in La Liga,
concluding with Barcelona's 2–0 defeat of Mallorca on 24 March.[47] In
the Champions League, he ended a goal drought by scoring a vital goal
against Milan in the quarter-finals. From there, he went on to score in
the semi-final against Chelsea to make the scoreline 2–0, but the match
ended 2–2, eliminating his team 3–2 on aggregate. Towards the end of
the year, on 25 November, Iniesta was named man of the match after
scoring one goal and providing three assists in a 4–0 win over
Levante.[48] His performances earned him third place in the voting of
the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or.[49]

Iniesta lifting the 2015 UEFA Super Cup trophy.

Iniesta signed a new contract with Barcelona in December 2013, keeping
him at the club until 2018.[50] As vice-captain, he regularly captained
Barça throughout the club's second treble-winning campaign of the
2014–15 season, and became captain after Carles Puyol's retirement and
Xavi's departure. Iniesta scored three times during the team's Copa del
Rey campaign,[51] and was man of the match in the 2015 UEFA
Champions League Final, having assisted Ivan Rakitić's opening goal in
the 3–1 defeat of Italian champions Juventus at Berlin's
Olympiastadion.[52] Their European victory made Barcelona the first
club in history to win the treble of domestic league, domestic cup and
European Cup twice;[53] Iniesta was among the seven players to have
been a part of both treble-winning teams.[53]

During the first Clásico of the 2015–16 season, on 21 November, Iniesta

became only the third Barcelona player, after Diego Maradona in 1983
and Ronaldinho in 2005, to receive applause from Real Madrid fans at
the Santiago Bernabéu.[54] His man-of-the-match performance included
a goal and an assist, contributing to a resounding 4–0 victory.[55]

He signed a lifetime contract with Barcelona on 6 October 2017,

effectively keeping him with the club for the remainder of his
career.[56] He played the 650th game of his career for Barcelona against
Levante on 7 January 2018, he was replaced by André Gomes after 76
minutes as the game ended 3–0 in favour of Barcelona.[57]

Despite signing a lifetime contract, on 27 April 2018, Iniesta announced

he would be leaving Barcelona by the end of the season.[58] He made
his 674th and final appearance for Barcelona on 20 May, in the final
league match of the season, a 1–0 home victory over Real Sociedad, as
Barcelona celebrated the victory of their 25th league and 30th Copa del
Rey title; he came off in the 81st minute for Paco Alcácer.[59]
Vissel Kobe
On 24 May 2018, Japanese club Vissel Kobe announced the signing of
Iniesta on a three-year deal.[60] He made his debut on 22 July, coming
on as a second-half substitute for Kazuma Watanabe in a 0–3 defeat
against Shonan Bellmare.[61]

International career
Iniesta burst on to the international scene in 2001, helping Spain win the
UEFA European Under-16 Championship. After representing his
country at the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Championship held in Trinidad
and Tobago,[62] he was in the squad that claimed the UEFA European
Under-19 Championship the following year. From then, he became a
regular choice for youth coach Juan Santisteban. In 2003, he was part of
the side that reached the FIFA World Youth Championship final in the
United Arab Emirates, and was named in the FIFA all-star team.[63]
During his spell with the Spain U21 side, Iniesta was named captain on
several occasions.

Iniesta was called up to represent the senior Spain squad at the 2006
FIFA World Cup on 15 May 2006, much to the surprise of many. He
won his first cap for La Furia Roja when he was brought on at half-time
in a friendly against Russia on 27 May.[63] His first goal followed in a
friendly against England on 7 February 2007. His long-range effort,
hitting the underside of the crossbar on the way in, gave Spain the lead
on 63 minutes. Iniesta played a pivotal part in Spain's qualification for
UEFA Euro 2008 by scoring goals against Sweden and by assisting the


Iniesta playing for Spain in September 2013.

Iniesta was selected in Spain's squad for UEFA Euro 2008 in Austria
and Switzerland. Though a stomach ailment somewhat hampered his
performances in the group stages, he still played an integral part in the
midfield. He played in the first two of Spain's group stage matches and
proved an important part of the team, providing a pass for David Villa's
second goal against Russia. He was not rested, unlike most of Spain's
regulars, for the final group game against Greece, which Spain won 2–1
thanks to a volley from Rubén de la Red and a late winner from Daniel
Güiza. Iniesta returned for the quarter-final as Spain beat Italy on
penalties; he was substituted before the penalty shootout itself. In the
semi-final against Russia, he played the entire 90 minutes and produced
a cross that Xavi converted to open the scoring; he was subsequently
named the Man of the Match.[64] He played the duration of the final in
Spain's 1–0 win over Germany. Iniesta was named in the Team of the
Tournament alongside fellow Spain midfielders Xavi, Marcos Senna and
six other teammates. Iniesta did not participate in the 2009 FIFA
Confederations Cup in South Africa due to a thigh muscle injury; Spain
was eliminated from the tournament at the semi-final stage.[65]

Iniesta was selected for Spain in the 2010 World Cup and scored the
second goal in a 2–1 group stage win against Chile. He was also named
man of the match.[66] For his excellent performances in helping Spain
reach the final of the tournament, Iniesta was shortlisted for the Golden
Ball award.[67] During the final, he scored the winning goal in the 116th
minute of a 1–0 win against Netherlands.[68] He earned a yellow card
for removing his jersey during his ecstatic goal celebration to reveal his
message to his late friend Dani Jarque.[69][70] He won the man of the
match award for his performance in the final, which gave Spain its first-
ever World Cup.[71]

At UEFA Euro 2012, Iniesta was awarded the man of the match award
for his performances in three different matches. He was also selected as
man of the match in the final against Italy, which Spain won 4–0. In
winning the award, Iniesta became the only Spanish player to win the
award at least once in each of Spain's three consecutive successful
tournaments.[72] Iniesta was also chosen as the UEFA Euro 2012 Player
of the Tournament.[73]


Iniesta with Spain at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

At the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, Iniesta was named in the Team
of the Tournament and awarded the Silver Ball for the second best
player in the competition, as Spain finished runner-up to host nation
Brazil.[74] Iniesta started all three matches for Spain at the 2014 World
Cup, winning his 100th cap in the team's final group match against
Australia.[75] At the UEFA Euro 2016, he assisted the only goal of the
match against Czech Republic and put in a man of the match display to
give Spain a winning start in the tournament.[76] He started in all four
Spain's matches and were later knocked out by Italy in the Round of 16.

In May 2018, Iniesta was named in Spain's squad for the 2018 FIFA
World Cup in Russia.[77] He started in all three matches of the group
stage, making an assist for Isco in the 2–2 draw against Morocco on 25
June 2018. He came off the bench in the 67th minute in Spain's last
match at the tournament against Russia on 1 July 2018 for the round of
16. After the loss in the penalty shoot-outs, Iniesta announced his
retirement from international duty.[78]

Style of play and reception

Iniesta on the ball for Barcelona against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012

Like fellow La Masia graduate Cesc Fàbregas, Iniesta originally started
as a defensive midfielder,[79] but his balance, ball control and agility
allied with his skill on the ball saw him make progress as an attacking
midfielder. Beyond his raw talent that was spotted at a young age by
Barcelona's scouts, it was his great versatility, work ethic and
inventiveness that allowed him to stake a claim on a first-team place at
the age of 18.[80] Vicente del Bosque described him as "the complete
footballer. He can attack and defend, he creates and scores," and Frank
Rijkaard said, "I played him as a false winger, central midfielder, deep
midfielder and just behind the striker and he was always excellent."[11]
He was used initially as a wide-forward in the absence of Juan Román
Riquelme and Ronaldinho by Louis van Gaal and Rijkaard respectively,
but made his name as a world-class player in central midfield alongside
or in lieu of Xavi, at both club and international level. As
says, "It is in this position that his direct style and quick feet can be used
to full effect, with the ball seeming glued to his toes as he races into
threatening positions. Iniesta is a player known for his passing,
dribbling, vision and movement."[81] His signature move is La
Croqueta – a move pioneered by Michael Laudrup and popularised by
Iniesta – where he quickly pushes the ball from his right foot to his left
which takes the ball away from an opponent, allowing him to get out of
a tight situation.[82]

"The one who plays this game the best is Iniesta: he knows exactly when
to go forward and when to drop back. He picks the right moment to do
everything: when to dribble, when to speed things up and when to slow
things down. And I think that's the only thing that can't be taught or
bought. You can learn how to shoot and how to control the ball, but
being aware of everything that's happening out on the pitch – that's
something you're either born with or you're not."
Former Argentina playmaker Juan Román Riquelme on Iniesta[83]

Iniesta evades Claudio Marchisio during the UEFA Euro 2012 Final
Much like other Barcelona youth products such as Pep Guardiola, Xavi
and Iván de la Peña, Iniesta is a playmaker who relies on exceptional
creative passing, intuition and inventiveness to control the midfield and
dictate the ebb and flow of play.[84] Iniesta has been praised for his
understanding and interplay with Xavi; former Barcelona teammate
Giovanni van Bronckhorst said of the pair, "They have a special
relationship, they always have, they just seem to know where the other
one is."[85] During his maturation as a player, he has gained a reputation
for playing a part in important goals for club and country, specifically
playing a leading role in the 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015 UEFA
Champions League finals, as well as the 2010 World Cup Final, Euro
2012 final and Euro 2008 semi-final.[80]

His willingness to play anywhere on the pitch has earned him the
sobriquet El Ilusionista (The Illusionist), El Cerebro (The Brain), El
Anti-Galáctico (a pun on Real Madrid players' nickname Los
Galácticos), El Caballero Pálido (The Pale Knight)[86] and most
recently Don Andrés from the Spanish press. Zinedine Zidane also
praised Iniesta, stating on the Spanish radio station Cadena COPE,
"Iniesta really impresses me. He's got so much influence in Spain's
game. He reminds me of myself." Fernando Torres, Spain's striker, said,
"We've been playing together since we were 15 and I have never, ever
seen him play badly."[87] He is widely regarded as one of the most
respected and best midfielders of all time.[4][5][6][7]

Media and sponsorship

Iniesta has a sponsorship deal with sportswear company Nike, and has
appeared in Nike commercials alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar,
Zlatan Ibrahimović and Wayne Rooney.[88] Iniesta features in EA
Sports' FIFA video game series, and was the sixth-highest rated player in
FIFA 15.[89] Iniesta’s signature move, La Croqueta, features in FIFA
19.[90] In March 2015, Iniesta had the ninth highest social media rank in
the world among sportspeople, with 24 million Facebook fans.[91][92]
Personal life
Iniesta is married to Anna Ortiz; the couple began dating in 2008 and
wed on 8 July 2012.[93][94] They have two daughters, Valeria (born
April 2011) and Siena (born May 2017), and a son, Paolo Andrea (born
May 2015).[95] They lost an unborn child, son Andrés Jr., due to
miscarriage in March 2014.[96] Iniesta is a Catholic.[97]

In 2011, Iniesta invested €420,000 in his boyhood club, Albacete, thus

becoming its major shareholder.[98] Two years later, with the club
facing administrative relegation to the fourth tier of Spanish football, he
loaned them a further €240,000 to cover unpaid wages.[99]

In May 2018, Iniesta revealed to Risto Mejide that he suffered with

depression before the 2010 FIFA World Cup due to his injuries and the
death of Daniel Jarque.[100][101]