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Xavi Hernandez

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Xavi Hernandez
Ilia Yefimovich / Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The name Xavi is generally followed by the words 'pulled the strings,' so influential is he for club and country.

It is not uncommon for Xavi to complete the same number of passes in a match as four or five of the opposition put together.

With the simplicity of his game combined with an ability to be patient until the right pass presents itself, Xavi is regarded as one of the most consistent players in the sport.

At Barcelona's famous La Masia youth academy, pass and move soccer is hot-wired into players from a young age and there is no better exponent than Xavi Hernandez.

Quick Facts:

  • Name: Xavi Hernandez Creus
  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Date and Place of Birth: January 25, 1980 in Terrassa
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Current Club: Barcelona (La Liga)
  • International Career: 2000 to present
  • The Early Years:

    Xavi has been at the club since he was 11 and steadily rose through the youth ranks and up to the club's B team in the 1997/98 season.

    He made his first senior appearance under Dutch coach Louis van Gaal in August 1998 as he appeared in the Spanish Super Cup against Mallorca. Barca lost, but Xavi capped his debut with a goal.

    The midfield maestro helped Barca to the title in the 1998/99 season, but that would be the club's last major silverware for six years as the likes of Real Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna and Valencia dominated the title race for several seasons.

    Successor to Guardiola:

    Xavi is cut from the same cloth as club legend Josep Guardiola with his ability to dictate the tempo of a match from midfield. Despite the lack of trophies, Xavi took on this mantle with relish, and although not delivering the accomplished performances he would later in his career, he was nonetheless an integral part of the side.

    The diminutive midfielder won a second title under Frank Rijkaard in 2005, but missed much of the following season with a knee injury as the club retained the title and won the Champions League, beating Arsenal 2-1 in the final.

    Xavi may look back on the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons as the best of his career. The perceived wisdom is that players are at their peak around the age of 28, and Xavi has added substance to this school of thought with two stellar seasons.

    Barca won the lot in 2009 - Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. Xavi's understanding with Andres Iniesta bordered on the telepathic at times in 2008 and 2009, the pair pivotal in an unprecedented year of success.

    Barca may 'only' have won the league title in the 2009-10 season, but Xavi was again in his pomp as he prompted and probed his way around midfield, picking passes and helping enhance Lionel Messi's reputation as one of the best in the business by supplying the ammunition for the Argentinean. In short, Xavi was central to the control Barca held over most of the matches they played that season.

    He was many people's man of the match in the 2011 Champions League final triumph over Manchester United and enjoyed another exceptional season in midfield alongside Iniesta and youngster Sergio Busquets as Barca eased to another Liga title.

    International Career:

    Xavi captained the side that won the 1999 edition of the FIFA under-20 World Cup in Nigeria and the team which finished runners-up at the 2000 Olympic Football Tournament in Sydney.

    Since making his Spain debut in November 2000, Xavi has not missed a single tournament, and was named the official best player as Spain won Euro 2008, their first major trophy for 44 years, and only the second in their history.

    The midfield metronome was again at the forefront as Spain recovered from a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in the opening match of the 2010 World Cup to win the tournament for the first time in their history.

    Xavi also helped Spain retain the European Championships in 2012.

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