When Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca pleaded with Andres Iniesta to stay at Barcelona
What's the story?
Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has been receiving requests from several quarters not to move out of the club where he received his tutelage as a young footballer and later went on to become one of their most successful and celebrated players. Among those who tried to dissuade the Spaniard from making the move was his fellow countryman and coach of Bengaluru FC, Albert Roca.
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Iniesta announced at the end of last month that the current season with Barca would be his last. Unconfirmed reports have suggested that Iniesta could make a move to the Chinese Super League next season. The Spanish international started his footballing career at Barcelona's Youth Academy.
Albert Roca too was part of Barcelona's Football Academy before donning the role of Assistant Manager at the same club and therefore has deep-rooted connections with the Barca set-up.
The heart of the matter
India captain Sunil Chettri has revealed that Roca pleaded with the veteran not to leave the club where he has spent 22 years, having started out as a promising 12-year-old.
"The other day I asked Roca about Iniesta leaving Barcelona. He said he messaged Iniesta not to leave. But Iniesta replied that, no it's time to leave."
Roca is just one among several of those from the footballing fraternity who did their best to convince the Barcelona captain not to leave. Iniesta and Messi began their magical tryst as professionals with Barcelona under coach Frank Rijkaard in 2005 following which the Catalan club won the Champions League in 2006 and reached dizzying heights thereafter.
Roca served as the Dutchman's assistant from 2003 to 2008 and has witnessed first-hand, Iniesta's initial steps at Camp Nou. What followed thereafter was a spectacular rise for both Barcelona and one of their greatest ever players which resulted in an unparalleled trophy haul including 8 La Liga final wins, 4 Champions League titles, and 6 Copa del Rey's.
Iniesta has not indicated where he will make a move but has stated emphatically that he will leave European shores and therefore will never have to play against Barcelona. He is expected to sign with Chinese club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan. Incidentally, fellow Spaniard Albert Roca may be homebound as he too is expected to make a move out of BFC at the end of the month.
Despite mournful requests from Barcelona fans worldwide, the club management, and several current and former players and coaches, the 33-year-old Spanish legend has decided that the time is appropriate to sever ties with the club where he learned his trade and plied it to world-class perfection.
Albert Roca, who has played a role in honing the skills of his countryman and former clubmate, knows that Iniesta's departure will be the end of an era but will appreciate the fact that no one but the player himself can choose best the timing of his own departure.