Childhood & Early Life
Andrés Iniesta was born on May 11, 1984, in Fuentealbilla, a village in Spain, to José Antonio and María Luján. His father was a well-known businessman in Albacete. Andrés grew up amidst comfort, and the love for football was ingrained deep within him ever since he was a little kid.
At the age of 10, his father enrolled him at the ‘Albacete’ youth academy, where the little boy performed wonders with his performances. Two years later, while playing in a tournament, he caught the attention of big Spanish clubs for the first time. His father’s connections with the management of ‘FC Barcelona’ had Andrés being sent for a trial, in which he succeeded to get their admiration.
Andrés was a shy child and moving to ‘Barcelona’ was not an easy process for him. He initially requested his parents to not let him go away, but his father convinced him. The ‘La Masia’ academy for young footballers worked under the ‘Barcelona’ youth program, and Andrés’s association with it spelt the true making of the superstar that he was going to become later.
Andrés was not even a teenager when he joined the academy, and was its youngest player, which had the management raising questions. However, his father’s intervention cleared the air and Andrés soon started practicing with them. Slowly, he turned into the best player in the academy and became the captain of their ‘Under-15’ squad. Under his captaincy, he led his team to win the ‘Nike Premier Cup’ in 1999, where he was also named the ‘Player of the Tournament.’
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Eventually joining the main squad of ‘Barcelona,’ Andrés made his debut in 2004, and in his first season for them, he only missed one game for his team. He scored twice and played a huge role in ‘Barcelona’s victory in the ‘La Liga.’ Being a midfielder, his role was less about scoring goals and more about being defensive.
In the 2006–2007 season, Andrés, with his brilliant performances, proved that he was perfect for any position. He captained his team in the pre-season and helped his team win the ‘Joan Gamper Trophy.’ In 2008, amidst rumors of a transfer, he signed another contract with ‘Barcelona,’ which meant he would be with the team till 2014.
In the 2008–2009 season, Andrés was at the peak of his career and often received standing ovations, not only from his home crowd of ‘Barcelona’ but from his rivals too. In the semi-finals of the 2009 ‘Champions League’ against ‘Chelsea,’ he scored a goal in the final minute, to drag the game to a draw. The team reached the finals and beat ‘Manchester United’ to lift the trophy. After the tournament, ‘Manchester United’ striker Wayne Rooney stated that he believed Andrés was the best player in the world.
Andrés was later rated as the league’s most consistent player and attained the fifth spot on the 2009 ‘FIFA Player of the Year’ list. Although he remained injured for most of the season, he never missed any crucial matches. In the 2010–2011 season, he was the runner-up in the race for the ‘Ballon d’Or’ award and achieved the third place in 2012.
In the 2011–2012 season, he scored in crucial matches, to help ‘Barcelona’ win the ‘Supercopa de España’ title. In the 2011 ‘La Liga,’ he led ‘Barcelona as the club went on a record undefeated streak of 51 matches. In the 2012 ‘Champions League,’ he scored in the quarter finals and the semi-finals but could not save his team from getting knocked out in the semi-final match against ‘Chelsea.’
In 2013, he signed another contract with ‘Barcelona,’ for five years, and was made the captain in the following year. In the finals of the 2015 ‘UEFA Champions League,’ he scored the winning goal and was named the ‘Man of the Match.’ ‘Barcelona’ became the first-ever club to have won the treble of the domestic league, the ‘European Cup,’ and the domestic cup, twice. Andrés was one of the seven ‘Barcelona’ players who were part of the treble-winning teams.
Willing to keep him forever, ‘Barcelona’ signed a contract with Andrés that stated they would retain him for the remainder of his career.
Internationally, Andrés has been a part of the Spanish national squad right from the turn of the century. In 2001, he helped his team win the ‘UEFA European Under-16 Championship’. He also helped his national team win the ‘European Under-19 Championship.’ In 2003, he was a key part of the team that reached the finals of the ‘FIFA World Youth Championship’ but was knocked out in the finals. He was included in the ‘FIFA All-Star’ team at the end of the tournament.
To everybody’s surprise, he was called upon to lead the Spanish squad in the 2006 ‘World Cup’ and later represented his team in the ‘UEFA Euro 2008,’ where he was included in the ‘Team of the Tournament.’ He missed out on the 2009 ‘FIFA Confederation Cup’ due to an injury.
His biggest career achievement was during the 2010 ‘FIFA World Cup.’ As he played magnificently to fix a spot for his team in the finals, he became one of the leading contenders for the ‘Golden Ball’ award. His team was to face the Netherlands in the final match. The match was approaching a draw when Andrés scored the winning goal in the 116th minute. Spain won its first-ever ‘World Cup,’ and Andrés was named the ‘Man of the Match’ for his brilliant performance.
He was also chosen as the ‘UEFA 2012 Player of the Season.’ At the 2013 ‘FIFA Confederations Cup,’ he was included in the ‘Team of the Tournament’ and was awarded with a ‘Silver Ball’ award, given to the second-best player.