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19.12.2008 19:36

Life with the Blaugrana

Aleix Santacana / Jordi Clos

The coaches, the board, the fans and the players all agree that Xavi Hernández has stood out during his time at FC Barcelona for his personality and his incredible ability on the pitch.

Xavi could have been born with a football at his feet and his father, Joaquim Hernández explained: "At home we have always been huge football fans. Xavi grew up with this obsession. He was always happy with a ball." The playmaker began to show signs of his capability very early on. "I noticed when he was young that he had something special and now he has shown that."

Joining Barça

xavi-trio-futbol.jpgIn 1991, aged eleven, Xavi signed for Barça and joined Oriol Tort's side. The youngster was unable to settle in La Masia, however, and continued to travel down fro Terrassa each day. According to Joan Vilà, Xavi's trainer for four years at youth team level, "his family environment is very good and that helped him a lot". His discipline off the field began to shine through on it, the trainer continued: "Xavi has the same qualities that he showed when he was 12 as he sees things quickly and always chooses the right pass to give his team-mates options. Also, he likes to play vertically and create the play."

Since he joined the club, Xavi has played in the position that was devised by Johan Cruyff as he plays just in front of the defence and links up the back line with the midfield and the forwards. "He is a player in the Barça profile," Vilà added. "That describes his style and the way that he plays."

First team place

XAVI_1999-2000.JPGHis rise to prominence was speedy and in the summer of 1998, aged 18, he made his debut with the first team in the Spanish Super Cup encounter at Real Mallorca. A dew month before, a symbolic midfielder had left the club when Guillermo Amor decided to move on and Xavi was seen as his successor. "I think that it was good luck for him that the same philosophy has been maintained right through from Loius van Gaal to Pep Guardiola. But you have to have the personality to cope with the pressure of playing for this team, especially when there are problem and the side is not winning."

Number one

XAVI_2004-05.JPGFew people know Xavi Hernández like Albert Jorquera as the pair both came from the youth ranks and have been in the squad together since 2003. The goalkeeper explained: "Xavi is always positive, always happy and gives us a boost in the dressing room. On the pitch you can give him a bad pass and know that he will control it and that he will see a pass before anyone else and can control a game. That is what makes him the number one in his position."

fcb-basilea_x11x.jpgThe majority of success that Xavi has enjoyed with Barça came when Frank Rijkaard was the head coach and the Dutchman was the person who encouraged him to push forward more and become more attacking. Pep Guardiola also appreciates his ability and has made him a fundamental part of his team. "Due to his physical strength and technical ability he will be able to carry on playing for a long time," Jorquera believes. "He will spend his entire career with Barça and will only stop playing when he can no longer perform at his best."
Life with the Blaugrana
Television tribute
A programme looking at Xavi Hernández's career, with opinions from many people in his life, will be screened on Barça TV soon.

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