Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Andres Iniesta

Full name : Andrés Iniesta Luján
Date of birth : 11 May 1984
Place of birth : Fuentealbilla, Spain
Height : 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position : Midfielder / Winger
Current club : Barcelona
Number : 8

At the age of 12, Iniesta started to attract attention from many clubs around Spain for his dazzling performances in his native Fuentealbilla, Albacete.He was noted for his "outrageous dribbling ability" and vision on the ball that belied his age. He was set to join Real Madrid's youth academy around this time, when he – like most other prospective youth players at the time – was shifted to Madrid's red light district by the club for his place of permanent residence. Upon learning this, his parents decided to turn down the opportunity to join the club. Iniesta then travelled to Barcelona with his parents and looked at the FC Barcelona youth school, La Masia; the trip resulted in Iniesta's enrolment in the Barça youth ranks. Like fellow La Masia graduate Cesc Fàbregas, Iniesta originally started as a defensive midfielder but his balance, close control and skill on the ball saw him make progress as an attacking midfielder. He was shy and often homesick at La Masia.He captained the Barcelona U-15 team to victory in the Nike Premier Cup of 1999, scoring the winning goal in the last minute of the final, and being named player of the tournament. The then first-team captain, and idol of Iniesta's, Josep Guardiola presented him with the trophy.[Guardiola gave Iniesta a signed photograph dedicated to "the best player I've ever seen", and it was around this time that he reportedly said to Barcelona midfielder and then-rising star Xavi that, "You will retire me, but Iniesta will retire us both."As a manager, Guardiola would make Xavi and Iniesta the heart of his treble-winning Barcelona side of 2009, almost a decade exactly after his famous prediction. Following his performances in the Premier Cup for Barcelona, he starred at national youth level for Spain's U-16 and U-19 teams, as well as being one of the stand-out performers in the 2003 edition of the FIFA World Youth Championship, earning a place in the team of the tournament in the process.Louis van Gaal handed Iniesta his first-team debut on 29 October 2002, a UEFA Champions League game against Club Brugge. His early appearances were impressive enough for there to be calls from some sections of the Spanish press for Iniesta to replace Juan Roman Riquelme in the Barcelona first team. He appeared 11 times in the league in 2003–04, mostly as a deputy for Camp Nou favourite Ronaldinho, scoring once as Barça sealed second place behind Valencia.In the 2004–05 season Iniesta successfully secured a permanent slot in the first team and figured in 37 of 38 league games — more than any other player. He displayed an unselfish attitude by regularly aiding forwards Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldinho but performed poorly in front of goal — denied by the woodwork on several occasions, he found the net just twice.Iniesta's improvement as a player continued in the 2005–06 season, and because of the absence of Xavi due to injury, he was given regular starts in midfield. The increased playing time offered to him at the highest level gave him the opportunity to blossom into a superb midfielder. His contribution to the team was praised by manager Frank Rijkaard as Barcelona won a league and Champions League double.The 2006–07 season saw Iniesta's profile continue to rise and earned plaudits for his willingness to play in any position for his team. On 22 August 2006 Andres lifted the Joan Gamper Trophy as the captain of the team after defeating German side Bayern Munich 4–0. He played for the first time as a left wing-forward for Barcelona in two Champions League matches against Levski Sofia, finding the net twice. In the first knock out stage of the same competition, he played at central midfield against Liverpool. Despite being moved around the pitch by manager Frank Rijkaard, the 2006–07 season remains Iniesta's highest scoring thus far.His current contract with Barcelona ends in June 2014. On 19 July 2007, he was linked with a move to rivals Real Madrid, with reports in newspapers suggesting Real was prepared to pay €60 million for him, which would trigger his release clause. Iniesta disregarded the rumours and reiterated his desire to remain with Barça by saying: "I can’t do anything about it but I’d like to insist once again that I want to stay here. When I say I want to retire in Barça, I say it with all my heart." Iniesta's release clause has since been raised to €150 million, to dissuade possible suitors.According to the Spanish football magazine Don Balón, a member of European Sports Magazines, Iniesta has been one of the most consistent performers in the last two seasons of Primera Division, placing fifth in 2006–07, and fourth in 2007–08 on their annual rating system Ranking Don Balón. He also placed 9th in the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year voting, gaining 37 total points.Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Xavi also featured in the top ten.On 24 September 2008, Andrés Iniesta was chosen as one of the new Barcelona captains, with the former vice-captain Ronaldinho departing for Milan. According to local newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, Iniesta will be the Barça fourth-choice captain, behind fellow Spaniards, Carles Puyol (1st-choice), Xavi (second-choice), and Víctor Valdés (third-choice). This new achievement by Iniesta has been welcomed by all Culés worldwide, and, especially, by the pro-Barcelona press throughout Spain. In mid November 2008, Iniesta suffered a leg injury and was expected to return to action in six weeks. Iniesta, however, did not want to come back until he was 100 percent and finally returned to action on 3 January 2009 as a 65th minute substitute against Mallorca. After only 10 minutes he scored a crucial goal and completed a Barcelona comeback in front of the Camp Nou. His performances in the 2008–09 season have been highly lauded, receiving standing ovations both in Barcelona at the Camp Nou, as well as from rival supporters in away matches.On 5 February, Iniesta made his 250th appearance for Barcelona in the Copa del Rey match against Mallorca. Iniesta once again got injured in Barcelona's home match against Málaga, but returned to action for the first leg Champions League quarter-final clash against Bayern Munich, which Barcelona won 4–0."I knew I would play injured and do more damage. For 17 days, all I thought about was the final in Rome and winning, even knowing that I would do more damage. I'd repeat it, for sure. I love this club and my profession and I wanted to win. If we had lost [the final] that would have been a total disaster."Former teammate Samuel Eto'o described Iniesta as being "the best player in the world; whenever Iniesta is on the pitch, he creates a spectacle."On 6 May 2009, Iniesta scored one of the most important goals of his career in Barcelona's semi-final against Chelsea. In the third minute of injury time, Iniesta powered home from outside the penalty box to the top corner of the net with four minutes remaining to draw the game, and secure the tie on away goals. This goal sent Barcelona through to the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final against defending champions Manchester United, in which he had a very influential role (providing the assist for the first goal scored by Samuel Eto'o) as his team went on to win 2–0. After the game, Wayne Rooney described Iniesta as the best player in the world. Don Balón rated him as the most consistent performer in the 2008–09 La Liga season, ahead of team-mates Xavi and Lionel Messi. Iniesta suffered a small tear in his thigh prior to the final but played through the pain, aggravating the injury.On 18 October, Iniesta was included in a list of 30 candidates for the prestigious Ballon d'Or, given to the top player of the year in Europe, along with teammates Xavi, Thierry Henry, Yaya Touré, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Lionel Messi and ex-teammate and current Internazionale striker Samuel Eto'o. Andrés was one of five nominations for the World Player of the Year award alongside teammates Lionel Messi, and Xavi Hernandez. Proud of the nomination, he commented that "the fans of the team who have always been there to support our team-mates also deserve to be recognised". The ceremony was held in Zürich and teammate Lionel Messi took home the award. Iniesta placed fifth with 134 votes. He scored his first goal for the season against Racing Santander in a 4–0 win. Iniesta's 2009–10 season was largely disrupted by recurrent injuries. He missed pre-season fitness training due to the thigh tear suffered in the 2009 Champions League final and this meant that despite featuring in almost as many matches as the previous season, he did so mostly as a substitute, starting only 20 games throughout. Nevetheless, Barcelona once again won the La Liga title securing a record 99 points. His season came to an end after he aggravated a previous calf injury during training.After being given extended rest by Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque following the World Cup, Iniesta returned to Barcelona for a pre-season medical on 9 August 2010. Speaking to Barcelona's website, he said of the message dedicated to Dani Jarque revealed during his goal celebration in the World Cup final: "I did it because I felt it deeply. It showed that what is more important than rivalry, your team or your colours is to be human and a good person. I am delighted because it was the most important moment in my career." Asked about the recurrent injuries that plagued his 2009/10 season, he said: "It was hard, but I will start with more desire than ever."Iniesta scored his first goal of the season for Barcelona during the opening La Liga fixture against Racing Santander, lobbing the ball into the net from a distance of 30 yards. He received standing ovations from away fans at El Sardinero and the Vicente Calderón in appreciation of his World Cup-winning exploits whilst with the Spanish national team.Iniesta burst on to the international scene in 2001, helping Spain win the UEFA European Under-16 Championship, and was in the squad that claimed the UEFA European Under-19 Championship the following year. Since then, he became a regular choice for the then youth coach Juan Santisteban. In 2003 he formed part of the Spanish side that reached the FIFA World Youth Championship final in the United Arab Emirates, and was named in the FIFA all-star team. During his spell with the Spain U21s side, Iniesta was named captain on several occasions.Originally a fringe player, he was called up to represent Spain at the World Cup 2006 on 15 May 2006, much to the surprise of many. Iniesta won his first cap for Spain when he was brought on at half-time in a friendly against Russia on 27 May 2006.He scored his first goal for Spain in a friendly against England on 7 February 2007. His long range effort, hitting the underside of the crossbar on the way in, gave Spain the lead on 63 minutes. Iniesta proceeded to play a pivotal part in Spain's qualification for Euro 2008 by scoring goals against the likes of Sweden and by assisting the strikers. Iniesta usually played in the middle of the pitch, but he was also trusted with roles further up the pitch when Spain was away from home, most notably in the game against Denmark where he was given an advanced left wing position.Iniesta was selected in Spain's squad for UEFA Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. Though a stomach virus somewhat hampered his performances in the group stages, he still played an integral part in the midfield. He played in the first two of Spain's group stage matches and proved an important part of the team providing a particularly notable pass for David Villa's second goal against Russia. He was not rested, unlike most of Spain's regulars, for the final group game against Greece (which Spain won 2–1 thanks to a fantastic volley from Rubén de la Red and a late winner from Daniel Güiza), and returned for the quarter final as Spain beat Italy on Penalties. Iniesta was substituted before the penalty shoot out itself. In the semi-final against Russia he played the entire 90 minutes and produced a quality cross which Xavi converted to open the scoring. The Technical Study Group named him the Man of the Match. He played the full duration of the final in Spain's 1–0 win over Germany. Iniesta was named in the Team of the Tournament alongside fellow Spain midfielders Xavi and Marcos Senna and 6 other teammates.Iniesta did not participate in the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa due to a thigh muscle injury.He was called for the 2010 World Cup, and scored the second goal in a 2–1 win against Chile. He was also named man of the match. For his excellent performances in helping Spain reach the final of the tournament, Iniesta was shortlisted for the Golden Ball award.He scored the winning goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final against Netherlands in the 116th minute, removing his jersey during his celebration to reveal an inscription on his undershirt reading "Dani Jarque: siempre con nosotros", which translates to "Dani Jarque: always with us," in tribute of former Spain youth teammate and RCD Espanyol captain Daniel Jarque, who passed away of a heart attack in August 2009. He won the man of the match award for his performance which sent Spain to their first ever World Cup win.Beyond his raw talent that was spotted at a young age by FC Barcelona's scouts, it was his great versatility, work ethic and inventiveness that allowed him to stake a claim on a first-team place at the age of 18. Vicente del Bosque described him as "the complete footballer. He can attack and defend, he creates and scores", and Frank Rijkaard said "I played him as a false winger, central midfielder, deep midfielder and just behind the striker and he was always excellent."He was used initially as a wide-forward in the absence of Juan Roman Riquelme and Ronaldinho by Louis van Gaal and Rijkaard respectively, but made his name as a world-class player in central midfield alongside or in lieu of Xavi, at both club and international level. As says, "It is in this position that his direct style and quick feet can be used to full effect, with the ball seeming glued to his toes as he races into threatening positions."Much like other Barcelona youth products such as Guardiola, Xavi and Iván de la Peña, Iniesta relies on exceptional creative passing, intuition and inventiveness to control the midfield and dictate the ebb and flow of play.Iniesta has been praised for his understanding and interplay with Xavi; former Barcelona teammate Giovanni van Bronckhorst saying "They have a special relationship, they always have, they just seem to know where the other one is".During his maturation as a player, he has gained a reputation for playing a part in important goals for club and country, specifically playing a leading role in both the 2006 and 2009 UEFA Champions League finals, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final and 2008–09 UEFA Champions League and Euro 2008 semi-finals.

Andrés Iniesta 2011 - Best Skills And Goals

Youth career
1994–1996 Albacete
1996–2001 Barcelona
Senior career*
2001–2003 Barcelona B
2002– Barcelona
National team‡
2000–2001 Spain U15
2000–2001 Spain U16
2001–2002 Spain U17
2001–2002 Spain U18
2001–2002 Spain U19
2003–2004 Spain U20
2003–2006 Spain U21
2006– Spain
Andres Iniesta Great Performance
Andres Iniesta Closed Up Face

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