Andrés Iniesta Luján (Spanish pronunciation: [anˈdɾes iˈnjesta luˈxan]; born 11 May 1984) is a Spanish football player. He currently plays as a midfielder for La Liga club FC Barcelona, and the Spanish national team.
Iniesta came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, and impressed from an early age. He made his first-team debut in 2002, aged 18. He began playing regularly during the 2004–05 season, and has remained in the side ever since. He was an integral part of the sextuple-winning Barcelona side in 2009, the only time which a club has achieved six titles in a year.
Iniesta played for Spain at Under-16, Under-19 and Under-21 levels, before making his international debut in 2006. He was selected for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, playing one game, as Spain went out in the second round. He helped Spain qualify for Euro 2008, and played an important role in the side as they went on to win the competition, playing every game and being selected in the UEFA Team of the Tournament. Iniesta was selected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was a key member of the victorious Spanish side; he scored the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands, also being named Man of the Match, and was selected in the tournament's All-Star Team. He was also the Man of the Match for two other World Cup games.
He captained the Barcelona Under-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 trophy was presented by one of Iniesta's idols: the then first-team captain Josep Guardiola, whose poster hung above Iniesta's bed 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, a decade after his famous prediction.
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 FC Barcelona's website, he said of the message dedicated to Daniel 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."
Andre Iniesta Poster
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 In a 1-0 win 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.
Iniesta is a player known for his passing, dribbling, vision and movement." 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.