People of short stature have always carved their own place in history. Adolf Hitler and Charlie Chaplin are icons of such short-fame fables. Diego Maradona captivated one and all with that one eye-candy goal he scored against England at the Azteca in 1986; just another short guy. In this listt, we have one more simple human being who probably plays football the way it was meant to be played, without any hassle, pressure or committing fouls for that matter.
The hour clock had chimed almost twice (116 mins) at the Soccer City in Johannesburg in the Rainbow Nation. And then the goal came that changed history forever. The first time a European nation won the FIFA World Cup outside Europe was determined by that moment of ingenious precision and technique; the goal that put Spain on top of the world. And the 5 ft 7 inch goalscorer, Andres Iniesta Lujan, is a poise-personified midfielder who rescued the World Cup singlehandedly from a morbid sense of dormancy.
Iniesta literally scares the living daylights out of defenders with his pristine brand of pass and move, as he was part of the Barcelona team that redefined football as the beautiful game everyone loves and respects. He represents FC Barcelona at the club level, and alongside Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi, there are few wonders Iniesta has not accomplished. In fact, he bears great resemblance to Zinedine Zidane in terms of his playing style.
Even though the basic tenet of club loyalty is a farce, his commitment to his boyhood franchise is truly remarkable. When you come to think of him, he is a timid and diminutive man whose on-field antics are strictly professional and respectable. Yet, when compared to his many contemporaries and players of younger generations, his off-field persona of being modest, gentle and charismatic has its own true charm. Andres Iniesta neither indulges in a fight with the referee, nor with his opposing players. What he does on the field is a real ‘spectacle’, as his friend and ex-teammate Samuel Eto’o once told.
Modest origins and International career
Born and brought up in a small village called Fuentealbilla in the Spanish province of Albacete, Iniesta started playing for Albacete Balompie in a junior seven-a-side tournament, which is when the Barcelona scouts identified him to be a potential star. At the age of 12, little Andres’ parents had to separate from him, as the then Barca youth team coach Enrique Orizaola convinced them that La Masia would be his temple of education and that the shy wonder kid, once he got past the emotional turmoil, with his talent and hard work, would be a modern day great.
Iniesta reminds me so much of Paul Scholes, the Manchester United legend in the sense that both shared similar physical attributes, yet had razor-sharp skills with the ball at their feet.
Iniesta and his Spanish friends won both the Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, a rare feat in itself. The crowning glory, of course, was their FIFA World Cup triumph in 2010. Four years hence, though, the Spanish Armada were found wanting as they were dealt twin crushing blows by both the Dutch (a 5-1 drubbing) and the Chileans (2-0), and subsequently went out in the group stages of the World Cup.
At the age of 30, Iniesta is truly in the twilight of his international career, and it would be endearing indeed to see him donning the La Roja colours again. Seeing him retire while he still is playing very well, will be greatly disappointing.
Iniesta’s ability to be decisive
Of all the crucial countless goals that he has scored, one that I distinctly remember is the booming half-volley equalizer against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the last minute of stoppage time, which rendered many a Blue fan hapless and heartbroken. Andres Iniesta has enthralled one and all on the football field, and fittingly, he might be the new captain of the Barcelona side this upcoming season. if the manager Luis Enrique decides to offer him the armband, with Xavi Hernandez rumoured to be leaving for Major League Soccer club New York City and Carles Puyol having retired.
Iniesta made a promise to walk the Way of Saint James if Spain won the 2010 World Cup, the devout Catholic that he is. He apparently invested 4,20,000 Euros in his boyhood club, Albacete, and became its major shareholder in 2011. After the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona in the Olympic Stadium, Rome, Wayne Rooney famously commented that Andres Iniesta is ‘the best player in the world’.
I concur with him emotionally, also for the fact that he is one of those rare one-club gems to have played the beautiful game. Moreover, Andres Iniesta does catch those classical musical notes that a certain Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used to play, and he fits every sobriquet there is, as a description.