Just 20 days after joining FC Barcelona’s much vaunted La Masia academy, Andres Iniesta made his first appearance for the club on 6 October 1996. The shy, diminutive midfielder appeared for the club’s U-14 B team at the tender age of 11. And he hasn’t looked back since.
Twenty years on, the Spaniard has gone on to make almost 600 appearances for the club and won the most number of trophies in the club’s history (29), tied with Lionel Messi. It is no exaggeration to say that Andres Iniesta has permanently etched his name into FC Barcelona folklore.
As popular as he is among his fellow teammates, Iniesta is part of a rare breed of footballers who have garnered respect from every opponent they have ever played against.
In honour of Andres Iniesta’s 20th anniversary at the club, I have compiled together some of the choicest praises bestowed upon Barcelona’s mercurial number 8.
- “Iniesta is the boyfriend that every mother wants her daughter to have.” — Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos
- “Iniesta’s the most inventive player in Spanish football at the moment. He’s like Harry Potter. One, two, three and whoosh… he’s past the player. It’s like he has a magic wand.” – Barcelona manager Luis Enrique
- “Nobody dominates space and time like him, he is unique” – Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola
- “When he has the ball, it’s like everything else stops – like the camera is going in slow motion.” – Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres
- “He reminds me of myself.” – Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane
- “He gives the impression he is going out onto the field to hand out sweets to his teammates” – Former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard
- “He is the best Spanish footballer by a long way” – Former Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez
- “He was always a top quality player. He started very young with us, and it’s crazy to see how he has gone on to make so much history.” – Brazil and Barcelona legend Ronaldinho.
- “At 1m70cm, he knocked over a United full of big, strong warriors in two Champions League finals” – Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
- “Journalists usually ask me who is better, Messi or Cristiano, I say Iniesta” – Spain and Manchester City midfielder David Silva
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 6, 2016
Gracias Don Andres.