The Nou Camp will be a special place on Saturday when Xavi bids farewell to Barcelona
Xavi is more than a player - he encapsulated a thought, a style whose time many at the club thought would never come back again. When he was a baffled squad player at Barcelona, the world of football, was seized by competitors with a different skill-set – sprinters with ball control.
Ronaldo's six-pack had turned into the picture of magnificence and scouting reports the world over appeared to concentrate on evaluations of physical traits more than the application of a player’s several attributes within a defined footballing system.
Barcelona were heading the same way. Frank Rijkaard had picked Edmilson and Marc Van Bommel ahead of Xavi and Andres Iniesta in the 2006 Champions League final against Arsenal in Paris. Iniesta on the night was brought on in the second half; Xavi was an unused substitute.
This Saturday at the Nou Camp, however, they will be praising the way that a broader rationality was revived in football and Xavi was the image of that revival.
He was little and he wasn’t among the quickest, however, he could think snappier than any of his adversaries could run, and his touch and vision was such that no measure of midfield muscle could overwhelm him when he was in full steam.
In Xavi’s own words, he was only noticed in 2008 despite being in the Barcelona for years prior to that year. He was often taunted as the guy who just played the ball from one side to the other.
He discusses a vocation of two parts at Barcelona – the first half spent on the seat watching others begin the defining moments and the second under Pep Guardiola where he contributed with the stick in his hand directing the finest Catalan ensemble to reveal a tune similar to Johan Cruyff's 1992 Dream Team. Guardiola was not by any means the only one to see a pioneer in Xavi.
At that point, Spain mentor Luis Aragones likewise chose to construct a group around him and play to his qualities. The trophies soon after.
Of him and his midfield side-kick Iniesta, Sir Alex Ferguson said: “They get you on that carousel and they abandon you lightheaded”.
Those two turned into the tick and tock of Barcelona's accuracy midfield and with first Yaya Toure and later Sergio Busquets playing between them they made the Barcelona midfield the best on the planet.
Busquets, Iniesta and Xavi, along with Xabi Alonso made the Spain group pretty much as dominant as Barcelona. It no more mattered that you could run faster or jump higher than Barcelona and Spain – on the ground, with the ball at their feet you just couldn't get the ball off of them.
Xavi's finest hour likely came in 2010 when Jose Mourinho first took his Real Madrid side to the Nou Camp and left with a 5-0 pounding. “We gave ourselves a minute’s round of applause in the dressing room afterwards,” said Xavi.
Saturday will be a farewell of sorts. It will surely be his last La Liga match and fittingly he will be given the league title at the end of the match by the president of the Spanish FA Angel Villar.
Anyway, he will be back after six days for the Copa del Rey final that is to be played in the Nou Camp. What's more, after four days he will be in Berlin for the Champions League final. He is unrealistic to begin however don't wager against him going on in the second half if Barcelona have the lead and need someone to control the game and see them over the line.
Furthermore, when the last shade truly has descended, Barcelona fans still trust that it won't be the last section in Xavi's Barcelona story.
One of the reasons he picked Qatar over the United States is that, at the Aspire Academy, he can begin his coaching profession. He won eight La Liga titles, the UEFA Super Cup on two occasions and the FIFA Club World Cup twice.
You won't find a single Barca fan who wouldn’t admit that he will be back one day at the Nou Camp to emulate Guardiola's example and work with the team