In a big game teams always need their big players to step up to the plate and deliver, many big names often go missing in such matches. The likes of Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo have too often been criticised for not delivering when it matters. However somebody who has emerged lately as someone who can always be counted on is Andres Iniesta.
The World Cup final isn’t the first time either that Iniesta has played well when it’s matter as he was good in the Euro 2008 final and was probably the best player on the pitch in the 2009 Champions League final. However Iniesta has never seemed to have gotten the recognition he deserves, this could be in part to his documented shy personality and that he tends to stay away from the media if possible. Prior to the World Cup all kinds of billboards and posters adorning the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi were spread all of South Africa. Yet Iniesta was nowhere to be seen, maybe now he will get the deserved plaudits after scoring the only goal of the World Cup final.
His talents haven’t gone un-noticed by everybody as former team mate Samuel Eto’o said of the midfielder: “Iniesta is the best player in the world, whenever he’s on the pitch he creates a spectacle.”
Baring in mind that Eto’o also played alongside Lionel Messi, Xavi and Ronaldinho for many years, so to single out Iniesta out of all of those players means a lot. However nobody took Eto’o’s comments seriously at the time, and it wasn’t until Wayne Rooney echoed his sentiments after Barcelona had defeated Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final that people began to sit up and take notice of Iniesta.
Iniesta and Xavi are such a deadly combination for both club and country and currently they must be the best midfield pairing in the world. However when Pep Guardiola was still playing for Barcelona and Iniesta was just a fresh faced 16-year-old coming through the ranks, Guardiola said to Xavi:
“You’re going to retire me, but this kid (Iniesta) is going to retire us all.”
Despite being so highly regarded, it took a while for Iniesta to firmly establish himself in Barcelona’s first team, he started making substitute appearances here and there as of 2002 but it looked as though he may of become a bit part player. However he didn’t complain and just worked hard until it became impossible not to play him. His attitude as a player is first class an you can only wish that more players were like him, after aggravating a small tear in his thigh after the Champions League final he said about playing:
“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 that would have been a total disaster.”
Now having just won Spain the World Cup and argubably having been the best player of the tourament, Andres Iniesta must be amongest the favourties to receive the inagural FIFA Balon D’Or. After the year he’s had not just for Spain but also in a title winning season for Barcelona who could argue against him winning the award. Finally it looks as though the humble Spaniard may just be getting the recognition that he deserves