Andrés Iniesta is a Spanish professional footballer who was born on May 11, 1984 in Fuentealbilla, Spain and plays as a central midfielder for the Japanese club,Vissel Kobe. Iniesta is widely considered to be one of the best player of his generation and one of the greatest midfielder of all time among his fans and other football lovers.
Being born in Fuentealbilla, a small village in the province of Albacete, Iniesta started playing for Albacete Balompie in a junior level tournament where he grabbed the attention of scouts from clubs around Spain. He then joined La Masia, which is Barcelona's youth academy. He then captained the Barcelona U15 side to victory in Nike Premier Cup in 1999 where he scored the winning goal in the last few minutes and was named 'Player of the tournament’.
Apart from Barcelona, Iniesta also played for Spain U16 where he was part of the squad that won UEFA European Under-16 championship in 2000-01 before making his debut Spanish senior team. Later he also represented his team in 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Trinidad and Tobago and UEFA European Under-19 Championship in the following year.
Iniesta made his debut for senior team on May 15 in a friendly match against Russia where he was brought on at half time for La Furia Roja.
He scored his first goal against England in a friendly match on February 7, 2007 and helped Spain to qualify for UEFA Euro 2008.
Rise to glory
Iniesta was selected to represent Spain in the 2010 world cup where he scored a goal against Chile in a 2-1 winning match and was judged as was judged as ‘player of the match’.
After his phenomenal performance throughout the tournament, Spain reached the final. In the final match, he scored the winning goal in the 116th minute of 1-0 win over Netherlands.
He was not only awarded the 'player of the match’ award for that but also got nominated for the Golden Ball Award. After that he became one of the core member of the team and the team revolved around him.
In the 2009-10 La Liga season, though Barcelona won but Iniesta’s was majorly hampered due to recurring injuries.
He also missed the pre season fitness training due to thigh tear but he still played that season with many matches as a substitute. Later, adding to that one of his friend and fellow footballer also died which lead h to psychological instability too. He recovered well from them and came back strong in the 2010 world cup where he won his team, Spain the title and never looked back after that.
After playing for Albacete Balompie in his youth career, Iniesta moved to Barcelona for training and remained there ever since. He made his first match for them in 2002 bit became their integral part during 2004-05 season where he played 37 out of 38 league games which was more than any player. He scored twice in that season and Barcelona later won that La Liga season.
2009-10 La Liga was one of the best season in his career where he gained lot of critical appreciations. His performances throughout the season was lauded and he received standing ovations in both Barcelona and away grounds. Prior to the final, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson described him as Barcelona's biggest threat. Also United's striker Wayne Rooney termed him as the best player in the world.
After renewing his contract many times, he signed a lifetime control with Barcelona on October 6, 2017 which will effectively keep him with the club in the entire remainder of his career. He recently also played his 650th game with Barcelona which made him one of the most loved and respected footballer among Barcelona's rivals’ fans also.
Iniesta has achieved many records during his career which makes him one of the most decorated Spanish footballer of all time.
He was part of the Barcelona side that won La Liga in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2014-15 and 2015-16; Copa del Rey in 2008-09, 2011-12, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17; UEFA Champions League in 2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11 and 2014-15; FIFA Club World Cup in 2009, 2011 and 2015.
For Spain he won FIFA World Cup in 2010, UEFA European Championship in 2008 and 2012; UEFA European Under-17 and Under-19 Championship in the year 2001 and 2002 respectively.
In his individual records, he was named in the UEFA Euro Team of the tournament in 2008 and 2012; La Liga Best Spanish Player in 2009; La Liga Best Attacking Midfielder in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; UEFA Team of the Year in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016; FIFA World Dream Team in 2010; Golden Foot in 2014, FIFA Club World Cup Bronze in 2015 and many other great notable achievements in his bag.