Childhood & Early Life
Xavier Hernández Creus was born on January 25, 1980, in Terrassa, Barcelona, Catalonia. His father, Joaquim, is a former professional footballer who played for Sabadell in the first division.
He joined Barcelona's La Masia academy at the age of eleven and rose through the ranks quickly to secure a spot in Josep Maria Gonzalvo's Barcelona B team which won promotion to the second division.
As a child, he was inspired by Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, as well as English midfielders Paul Scholes, John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne and Matt Le Tissier.
Xavi made his first-team appearance in a match against Lleida on May 5, 1998, and scored his first goal three months later in the Super Cup final against Mallorca.
He made his first appearance in La Liga on October 3, 1998, in a game against Valencia, and was named 1999 La Liga ‘Breakthrough Player of the Year’ after winning the Spanish league.
He became the key playmaker for the team during the next season, and scored 7 goals, including 20 assists, in the next two seasons.
He was the vice-captain of the team during the 2004-05 season, in which Barcelona won La Liga and Supercopa de España, and was named the ‘La Liga Spanish Player of the Year’ in 2005.
He sustained a leg injury in the following season and had to rest for four months before returning to witness his club’s 2006 UEFA Champions League win. Barcelona also won La Liga and the Supercopa de España again that season.
During the 2008-09 season, he considered a transfer to Bayern Munich, but was convinced by coach Pep Guardiola to stay at Barcelona. He ended the season with 29 assists, including 20 in La Liga, becoming the highest assisting player.
He scored a goal in their 4-1 win against Athletic Bilbao in the 2009 Copa del Rey final and assisted in Lionel Messi’s header in their 2009 Champions League final win against Manchester United. His contributions won him the ‘UEFA Champions League best midfielder’ honor.
In the 2009-10 season, he became the highest assisting player once again and helped Barcelona win the La Liga title. He came third in the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or behind Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta.
In early 2011, he became the player with the most appearances for Barcelona, surpassing Migueli who previously held the record with 549 appearances. That year, they won the Champions League final against Manchester United and the FIFA Club World Cup final against Brazilian side Santos, in which he scored a goal and also made an assist.
The 2011-12 season was his career best in terms of goal-scoring. He had ten La Liga goals, one in the FIFA Club World Cup, and two in Copa del Rey, which they also won.
The 2014-15 season is the last he played for Barcelona, during which he made his 500th La Liga appearance. He was the captain of the team during the season, and played his final match as a substitute in their Champions League final win against Juventus.
Xavi signed a three-year contract with Qatari club Al Sadd in mid 2015, and made an assist in his debut match for the team in their 4-0 win over Mesaimeer on September 13, 2015. The 2017 Qatar Cup win was his first trophy with the team.
Xavi played for the Spanish U-20 World Cup team which won the title in 1999. He debuted for the senior national team the next year, and went on to play 133 matches for Spain.
He played a pivotal role in the UEFA Euro 2008 championship, in which Spain remained undefeated and won the title for the second time after 1964. He scored the first goal in their 3-0 semi-final win against Russia and assisted in the only goal in the final against Germany, and was honored as the ‘Player of the Tournament’ for his performance.
In 2010, he helped Spain win their first World Cup making 599 passes with a success rate of 91%. He registered the best ball possession in the tournament and also assisted in a number of goals, including one in the semi-finals against Germany for which he was named ‘Man of the Match’.
During a group stage match against the Republic of Ireland in the UEFA Euro 2012, he made a record 136 passes with a success rate of 94% in their 4-0 win. He assisted in two goals in their 4-0 win against Italy in the final, becoming the first player to have assisted in goals in two European Championship finals.
He entered the Spanish side for the 2014 World Cup as the most successful player in the country’s history, but his team was eliminated at the group stage. He soon announced his retirement from international football, ending a 14-year-old career.
Personal Life & Legacy
Xavi started dating fashion journalist Núria Cunillera after Spain’s Euro 2012 win. They got married at a ceremony in Marimurta Botanical Gardens in Girona in July 2013 and welcomed their first daughter Asia on January 3, 2016.
He is an ambassador of the German sports brand Adidas, for which he has appeared on many commercials. He was among the top footballers selected for FIFA's "11 against Ebola" campaign in November 2014.