|FULL NAME||Andrés Iniesta Luján|
|BORN||May 11, 1984|
|HEIGHT||1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)|
Andrés Iniesta is a Spanish professional footballer who was born on May 11, 1984 in Fuentealbilla, Spain. He currently plays as a centre midfielder for the Japanese club Vissel Kobe. Among his supporters and other football enthusiasts, Iniesta is largely regarded as one of the finest players of his generation and one of the greatest midfielders of all time.
Iniesta was born in Fuentealbilla, a tiny hamlet in the province of Albacete, and began his career with Albacete Balompie in a junior level competition, where he drew the attention of scouts from teams all across Spain. He later joined La Masia, Barcelona’s youth programme. He then captained the Barcelona U15 team to victory in the Nike Premier Cup in 1999, scoring the game-winning goal in the last few minutes and was awarded ‘Player of the Tournament.’
Apart from Barcelona, Iniesta also played for Spain U16, where he was a member of the squad that won the UEFA European Under-16 championship in 2000-01 before making his senior debut for Spain. Later, he represented his country at the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Trinidad & Tobago, as well as the following year’s UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
In May 15, Iniesta made his senior team debut in a friendly match against Russia, coming on at halftime for La Furia Roja.
On February 7, 2007, he scored his first goal against England in a friendly match, and he helped Spain qualify for UEFA Euro 2008.
Ascend to greatness
Iniesta was chosen to represent Spain at the 2010 World Cup, where he scored a goal against Chile in a 2-1 victory and was named “man of the match.”
Spain advanced to the finals thanks to his outstanding performance throughout the tournament. In the championship game, he scored the game-winning goal in the 116th minute in a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands.
He was not only named ‘player of the match,’ but he was also nominated for the Golden Ball Award. Following that, he became a key member of the squad, and the team revolved around him.
The low points
Though Barcelona won the 2009-10 La Liga season, Iniesta’s performance was hindered by repeated ailments.
He also missed preseason physical training due to a thigh strain, although he still appeared in numerous matches as a substitute that season. In addition, one of his friends and fellow footballer died, which contributed to his psychological instability. He recovered well from them and came back strong in the 2010 World Cup, when he won the trophy for his country, Spain, and never looked back.
Career in the club
Iniesta came to Barcelona for training after playing for Albacete Balompie in his childhood career and has been there ever since. He played his debut match for them in 2002, but he became an essential component of their team during the 2004-05 season, when he played 37 out of 38 league games, more than any other player. He scored twice that season, and Barcelona went on to win La Liga.
2009-10 La Liga was one of his greatest seasons, and he received a lot of critical acclaim. Throughout the season, his efforts were acclaimed, and he got standing ovations in both the Barcelona and away stadiums. Prior to the final, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson referred to him as Barcelona’s most dangerous threat. United striker Wayne Rooney also referred to him as the finest player in the world.
After many contract extensions, he signed a lifetime control agreement with Barcelona on October 6, 2017, officially tying him to the club for the rest of his career. He just played his 650th game for Barcelona, making him one of the most popular and respected footballers among supporters of Barcelona’s opponents.
During his career, Iniesta set several records, making him one of the most decorated Spanish footballers of all time.
He was a member of the Barcelona team that won La Liga in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2014-15, and 2015-16; the Copa del Rey in 2008-09, 2011-12, 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17; the UEFA Champions League in 2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11, and 2014-15; and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009, 2011 and 2015.
He won the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the UEFA European Championship in 2008 and 2012, and the UEFA European Under-17 and Under-19 Championships in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
Individually, he has been named to 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 notable achievements.