Andrés Iniesta joined Barca as a twelve-year-old in 1996 after scouts had spotted him at the Brunette Tournament playing for Albacete.
From the start he progressed rapidly through the club's various youth teams and was promoted to the Barca B team for the 2000-01 season, where he almost immediately became the team's main playmaker under coach Josep Maria Gonzalvo.
Andrés' dream of making the first team finally came true in October 2002 when he was picked to play in the Champions League game against Bruges in Belgium. Van Gaal's Barca won that evening and Andrés made an excellent impression.
Now an recognised squad member, Iniesta has established a place for himself through hard work allied to his undoubted natural skills. In the shadow of some of the team's bigger names, Andres became a key piece of the League winning 2004-5 team, winding up as Rijkaard's most used player, figuring in 35 of the 38 league games. Iniesta also played 8 Champions League matches, scoring twice.
But he really established himself as a first team player in the 2005-06 season. Playing in
central midfield in place of Xavi, who was sidelined for a long time with injury, Iniesta became
one of the key players in the Barça side that won the League and the Champions League. He played in
33 League fixtures and 11 in the Champions League.
Iniesta continued to develop in the 2006-07 season and was one of the players most used by Frank Rijkaard in that campaign. He played in 37 out of 38 League games scoring 6 goals, his best return to date. In the 2007-08 season, and by now in the number 8 shirt, the midfielder continued to be an ever present in the side until the last few games when he picked up a knee injury.
Plus Andrés Iniesta is one of the key players in the Spanish national side, playing in the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008, when he was one of the players most used by Luis Aragonés as Spain lifted the trophy.
Iniesta is fast, direct and reads the game superbly. He started playing in Barca B in a holding role in midfield but has gradually adopted a more attacking position in his first team appearances. Van Gaal began to use him in the hole behind the striker and Frank Rijkaard has, on occasions, given him a wider role on the right.
This demonstrates what is perhaps Iniesta's greatest strength his versatility and professional attitude towards whatever job the coach hands him. Andres is not a showy player, an attribute that matches his off the field persona, but gives a guarantee of practicality and elegance.
2008/09 Champions League
2008/09 Copa del Rey
2006/07 Spanish Supercup
2005/06 Champions League
2005/06 Spanish Supercup
Spanish national team
2008 European Championship