X is for the professional Spanish footballer (X)avier Hernandez Creus – #BlogchatterAtoZ #AtoZChallenge 2019
The letter X is indeed a tough call for most of us taking part in the A to Z blogging challenge. Well, things were not any different for me and I had to search quite a bit on the internet before I zeroed in on two sportspersons who had names starting with the letter X. One was the former Australian cricketer Xavier Doherty and the other was the Spanish professional footballer Xavier Hernandez Creus better known by the name Xavi. At first, I thought of writing an article on the cricketer but later I reflected that almost throughout the week I have been writing about cricketers. And in fact, some of my choices of subjects this week have come under a lot of flak as they are quite unorthodox.
So I decided I will write about a footballer in the final post of this week. So Xavi it is. Many people may not have heard his name, but Xavi is quite a popular footballer though not in the same league as Messi or Ronaldo. Xavi was born in Terrassa, Barcelona, Catalonia. His date of birth is 25, January 1980. At the age of 11, Xavi joined FC Barcelona’s La Masia youth system. His father, Joaquim, was a former player for Sabadell in the first division.
Xavi played for Barcelona from 1998 to 2015. Xavi progressed through the ranks and scored his first goal on 18, August 1998 in the Super Cup final against Mallorca. He debuted in La Liga against Valencia on 3 October 1998 in a 3–1 victory for Barcelona. He initially featured for both the reserve and senior teams. His sustained impressive performances resulted in his becoming a key member of Louis van Gaal’s title-winning team, finishing the 1998-99 season with 26 matches played. In 1999 he was named the La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year. Xavi became Barcelona’s principal playmaker after Pep Guardiola was injured in the 1999–2000 season.
Xavi was named the vice-captain of Barcelona in 2004-05. He helped Barcelona win La Liga. In the year 2005, he was named the La Liga Spanish player of the year. In the 2005-06 season, Xavi injured his knee and was out of circulation for 4 months but he returned later and he again won La Liga and the Supercopa de Espana. Xavi was named Player of the Tournament at Euro 2008. After this, Xavi spoke to Bayern Munich about a transfer, but Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola convinced him that he was important for the club and stopped him.
Xavi was one of the architects of Barcelona’s win in the 2009 Champions League final 2–0 victory against Manchester United. He assisted in the second goal by crossing to Messi for his header. Before the match, Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson had praised the central midfield combination of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. He said,
‘I don’t think Xavi and Iniesta have ever given the ball away in their lives. They get you on that carousel and they can leave you dizzy’
Consequently, Xavi was voted ‘UEFA Champions League best midfielder’ for his contribution to Barcelona’s victorious Champions League campaign.
In the year 2010, Xavi was one of the finalists for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award. He finished third in the vote behind Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. He also defeated Messi to win the Player of the Year award from World Soccer magazine. Xavi made his 549th appearance for Barcelona in all competitions, on 2 January 2011 in a league match against Levante, and matched the record held by Migueli. He later became the player with the most appearances for Barcelona of all time. In the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium in London, Xavi performed exceptionally and Barcelona defeated Manchester United in the showpiece for the second time in three seasons.
On 16, January 2014 Xavi made his 700th appearance for Barcelona for the first team against Getafe in the Copa del Rey. Finally, in 6, June 2015 Xavi made his last appearance for Barcelona when he came on as a 78th-minute substitute for Andres Iniesta during the Champions League final. The club won its fifth European Cup, beating Juventus at Berlin’s Olympiastadion.
On 21st May 2015, Xavi joined the Qatari club Al Sadd SC on a three-year contract. He made his debut for Al Saad on 13, September 2015 when he assisted in the first goal in a 4–0 win over Mesaimeer. He scored his first goal for the club in a match against Umm Salal which was drawn 2–2 draw. Al Sadd ended the league campaign in the third position putting the club in a place for the next season’s AFC Champions League. During the season Xavi scored three goals. But unfortunately Xavi missed a spot kick in the penalties and Al Sadd were knocked out of the Champions League in the qualifying rounds by Al Jazira.
Xavi won his first trophy with Al Sadd in the Qatar Cup final on 29 April 2017. On 10 November 2017, Xavi said that he would retire when his contract with Al Sadd expired at the end of the 2017–18 season and that he planned to pursue a coaching career. However, he postponed these decisions and signed a two-year contract extension with Al Saad in 2018. Coming to his international career, Xavi has played for Spain at the 2000 Olympics, 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004, 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008, 2009 Confederations Cup, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.
In the 2010 World Cup which Spain won, Xavi provided the maximum number of accurate passes, a mind-boggling 599 passes with a success rate of 91%. He also crossed the ball inside the 18-yard box more than any other player in the tournament. In the final he made 57 accurate forward half passes. He also covered 80.20 kilometres throughout the competitions. In the final, he covered a distance of almost 15 kilometres. Subsequently, this is what Duncan White wrote about Xavi in the Telegraph.
‘Xavi is the beating heart of this Spanish team, the man dictating the tiki-taka pulse of pass after pass. He may be just 5ft 7in with a curiously hunched gait but no player more influences the way his whole team plays. He doesn’t score, doesn’t really tackle: he just passes and passes with a precision and wit unmatched by any of his peers.’
Xavi is regarded as the best central midfielders of all-time by some people. He has the ability to find spaces and exploit them as a playmaker. He has a signature move too. When in possession of the ball he makes a 360-degree turn, known as le pelopina and this helps him to avoid the opponent and gives him time and space to think about his next pass. He is known as ‘The Puppet Master’ because of his ability to control matches by passing with agility.
The German Sportswear And Equipment Supplier Adidas has a sponsorship deal with Xavi and he has appeared in commercials along with Lionel Messi. He also features in the EA Sports’ FIFA Video Game Series and was the top-passer in FIFA 15 with a 91% rating. Xavi married Nuria Cunillera in July 2013 and they have a daughter Asia born on 3, January 2016. I hope you enjoyed reading about this Spanish footballer. On Monday I will be back with another sportsperson.
Tags – #BlogchatterAtoZ 2019 #AtoZChallenge 2019