Quotes on: Xavi

We’re living in an era dominated by two of a handful of players who can lay realistic claim to being the greatest footballer of all time. Messi and Ronaldo have earned all the plaudits for more than half a decade, and have undeniably been the greatest of their time. However, one player has spent an entire career relatively unnoticed, and certainly not as the target of praise commensurate with his incredible talent, and his unending list of major contributions for both club and country. The fact that this very same player, of whom Simon Kuper, the renowned footballing journalist, once said: “He didn’t do the things that get people headlines, like squabbling or being transferred or scoring a lot of goals. [ . . . ] If [ . . . ] isn’t careful, people will soon notice him”, has won 25 trophies, including 8 La Ligas and 4 UEFA Champions Leagues, at club level, 2 FIFA World Cups and 1 UEFA European Football Championship, winning a list of individual awards too long to name, tells you all you need to know about Xavi Hernandez Creus, Barcelona’s midfield maestro who made the last of 767 senior appearances for his boyhood club on Saturday.

An end befitting the story. Has any legend ever bowed out of the European game on a higher note?
An end befitting the story. Has any legend ever bowed out of the European game on a higher note?

Find out what some of his teammates, managers, opponents, and others blessed to have witnessed his magic from close quarters, have had to say about the incomparable master of the pass.

“An amazing player, but he never wanted to be the hero. Everything he did was for the good of Barcelona.” — Rivaldo

“Xavi is an unbelievable player. He would create the tempo of the game. I will call him ‘maestro’, because when you have this guy in the middle, he sees everywhere, gives very good balls [ . . . ] (and knows how to slow the game, how to speed the game.” — Alex Song

“I didn’t realise how amazing Xavi was until I met him. I think Xavi is the best football player I have had as a team mate. His moves, the way he plays the ball, and turning without losing it… he just never loses the ball! He already knew where to put the ball when I was just starting to run.” — Henrik Larsson

“This is somebody who just makes the team work. He is like the part of the machine that just makes everything come together. He is considered one of the best central midfield players in Europe and that is quite right, because he really is that good. You will not meet many more passionate men in the world. Some people win, but some are winners. He doesn’t have another option apart from “win” in his brain.” — Samuel Eto’o

“He is the best Spanish player of all time and the finest midfielder of his type I have seen. [ . . . ] there isn’t a thing the opposition can do to stop him. [ . . . ] he is my favourite performer from my time as a player. He isn’t athletic, he isn’t physically imposing and doesn’t score spectacular goals. but when he [ . . . ] decide(s) at what tempo a game will be played — if he wants to play quicker he says he takes ‘half a touch’ — that is it. You won’t see the ball.” — Jamie Carragher

Carragher certainly looks like he’s standing next to his favourite performer from his time. It doesn’t take much to recognize when you’re in the presence of greatness.

“Xavi is eternal. Even when he is not at his very best level physically, he plays a kind of football that gives oxygen to a team, play, speed. It makes me sad to think that I won’t be able to watch Xavi [in Europe] for more time. He’ll always have that level. He is football. He is one of those players that has made Barcelona what it is today.” — Thiago Alcantara

“Xavi was my mirror. By doing simple things he would make great things happen. He was the one who helped give Barcelona the greatest moments. You will never find another like him.” — Thiago Alcantara

“If we’re talking about Xavi, we’re talking about a legend in world football, a genuine legend. From the very first game to the very last game he has been the most decisive player at Barcelona, the player who has done more for Barcelona than anyone else, the player who has lifted more trophies than anyone else, ever. That’s Xavi Hernández. There will be a Before Xavi and an After Xavi. [ . . . ] There will never be another player like him.” — Hristo Stoichkov

If football was a science, Xavi would have discovered the formula. With a ball at his feet, no one else has ever communicated so intelligently with every player on the pitch.” — Jorge Valdano

“There will never be a player like Xavi. I was fortunate to play with him and I learned something new every day. He’s a player that made the difficult look easy, simplifying everything.” — Santi Cazorla

Without doubt, the best midfielder there has been in world football over the last 30 years.” — Marcelino

“Xavi changed football. He helped us to build, or to see, a new player profile that ended up running through all levels of the national team. He killed off the myth of physicality being above all else and opened people’s eyes to the qualities of small, technical players, proving that you can attack and also defend with the ball. There are lots of players who win things, but few who lay down concepts, ideas, who change the way we think, and Xavi did that. At club level, the idea already existed and he perfected it; at international level, he imposed it. Possession, the speed of pass. He made it simple, and that’s difficult. The intensity with which he played was vital and it showed that intensity is not what people often think it is. It’s the rhythm of the game, the speed and intensity of the play itself: quick, simple, constant. He made every other player better. He gave the right pass, he gave continuity and he was always well positioned.” — Julen Lopetegui

“Xavi is unique; there won’t be another player like him. The style of Barcelona and the national team was forged through him.” — Ander Herrera

“He is Barca from head to toe.” — Marc Bartra

“Everyone knew when he was coming through the youth system that he was the successor to Guardiola, if Pep ever left. He had huge talent and you could see that from very young. Tactically, he was excellent. He has done so many good things for Barcelona that one day he has to return.” — Ronaldo Koeman

“Football in its purest form.” — Sergio Ramos. Is Xavi the best passer we have ever seen?

“Football in its purest form.” — Sergio Ramos

“As a team-mate, Xavi stood out because of his approachability, solidarity, leadership and humility. His departure feels like the end of an era for me; he was the stamp of identity for a generation, the embodiment of a style. He represents a change of mentality, aims and ambition in Spanish football. He made it possible for Spain to throw off its complex and look other successful teams in the eyes. It is hard to say something new about him as a player, but he was a footballer who always made his team-mates better. Above all, I will remember him as a person. Xavi was always Xavi, the same Xavi he had always been.” — Carlos Marchena

“Xavi is the defender of the values of the greatest Barcelona team in history. He is the personification of a model based on effort and a commitment to touch and technique, that exquisite eye that Barcelona projected around the world.” — Joan Laporta

He signifies our way of playing, the culture of La Masía, everything. He is one of those emblematic players who have helped to make Barcelona even bigger.” — Gerard Pique

“One of the big mistakes people make is to talk about who can be the next Xavi, to keep looking for him. We waste time constantly looking for the replacement for Xavi? There will never be another Xavi.” — Cesc Fabregas

“Xavi is several classes better than me.” — Cesc Fabregas

“The motor, the style, the brain of one of the best Barcelona teams in history.” — Carles Puyol

“Without doubt, Xavi is one of the most influential players there has been in football in recent years.” — Xabi Alonso

“I have not seen a more simple footballer. He does everything as written in the manual, that is, clinically. He will only pass it when he is 110 per cent sure of its accuracy.” — Dmytro Chygrynskiy

“Xavi is values, leadership, trust, maturity, commitment, the desire to overcome. He is one of the most important players in the world over the last decades. His way of understanding the game helped make Spain champions. His vision, his perception, his idea contributed to Spain playing the kind of football that people fell in love with and built an unforgettable era of success.” — Iñaki Sáez

“If Xavi has a bad day then Barcelona do not play half as well. He is the one that sets the rhythm of the game. His play allows the team to function. He’s different” — Johan Cruyff

“Again, one of the best midfielders of all time. With touch, skill and passing, he has helped Barcelona win everything.” — Marco van Basten

“He is the most amateur player I know, and at the same time the most professional player too, such is his love for football… Training would be at eleven am and at ten forty he was already out there, kicking the ball around.” — Pep Guardiola

“In an immense, globalised game like football has become, Xavi was still able to define an entire style, a way of playing and understanding football. From now on, whenever we see certain types of players we will look at them and say: ‘He plays like Xavi.’ Only the very greatest players can be said to have done that” — Andoni Zubizarreta

“I have run out of compliments for him. There is no-one who can compare to what he represents as a person and a player. His statistics, the years, the feelings he conjures up, his way of doing things are beyond words. He is a unique player, unrepeatable and he has been fundamental to the club and Spain. It is a true pleasure and privilege to have played alongside him for my entire career.” — Andrés Iniesta

The privilege has been all ours.
The privilege has been all ours.

“For me, the number one midfielder is Xavi.” — Andres Iniesta

“He is a leader, an example, on a footballing level, he is privileged because he is always ahead of the game, of what is happening.” — Andres Iniesta

“While we live in the present, Xavi lives in the future. He thinks ahead of everyone and he makes everything so much easier.” — Dani Alves

“It’s hard to say, but Xavi is a more complete player than Guardiola.” — Boudewijn Zenden (when Xavi burst onto the scene in the late 1990s)

“Just as the legendary Chelsea defender Ron “Chopper” Harris incarnated the foul, Xavi incarnates the pass.” — Simon Kuper, renowned football journalist

“It was a pleasure to be next to Xavi. He is a different player who makes things look easy. He sees passes that only he sees.” — Lionel Messi

“Xavi laid down a style for the national team and marked an era. He was an expert at moving the ball on with one or two touches but when he had to hold on to it, he did that too. When it came to dictating the pace of a game, studying matches, he was a maestro. Teams would drop deep and wait and he would always find the solution, patiently. In 10 minutes, he knew the team in front of him perfectly. He was a leader.” — Vicente Del Bosque

“Off the pitch he’s a great man, and is a great champion on it.” — Andrea Pirlo

“I love his style of playing. He’s the footballer I’ve liked most over the last four years.” — Daniele de Rossi (during Euro 2012)

“Everyone is fascinated by the way he moves the ball around.” — Iker Casillas

“If we analyse football as a collective sport, he is the most influential player I have ever seen. Others can move their team, but I have only ever seen one player, and that’s him, who can move all twenty-two players on the pitch as he wishes, to his rhythm.” — Jose Etxeberria

“Xavi laid down a style for the national team and marked an era. He was an expert at moving the ball on with one or two touches but when he had to hold on to it, he did that too. When it came to dictating the pace of a game, studying matches, he was a maestro. Teams would drop deep and wait and he would always find the solution, patiently. In 10 minutes, he knew the team in front of him perfectly. He was a leader.” — Vicente Del Bosque

“For me, he’s Mr Barcelona, like Tony Adams was Mr Arsenal. He won everything that he could win. It’s like the maestro with the orchestra, that’s what he was for me. The word ‘great’ doesn’t do him justice. This is an amazing, unbelievable, brilliant player that’s about to leave us.” — Thierry Henry


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