The Heart And Soul Of Heart And Soul – Iniesta’s Farewell Comments To Xavi At His Retirement

Longtime readers will note that the male players who most interest me in the pro game are Iniesta and Xavi at Barcelona. So when the club held a ceremony to mark Xavi’s decision to leave the club, and Andrés Iniesta stepped up to the podium, I took notice.

Iniesta is no orator. He does not possess skills in public speaking. But, the words he said to his teammate and friend were so spot-on, I felt moved to tears. Note that there is not one mention of any game, any play, any moment on the field. Iniesta’s heartfelt words center on what Xavi has done as a leader in the clubhouse. And in that spirit I am repeating them here with my loose translation:

“The occasion is such that I prepared a few remarks, said Iniesta in the Auditorium 1899. The heart of Barcelona CF was gathering to say farewell to Xavi Hernández, who couldn’t repress tears before the emotional comments of his colleague. Here are the verbatim comments the Manchego (region where Iniesta hails from) dedicated to him in his farewell:

“Captain, companion, friend, “machine” (He was nicknamed ‘La Máquina’ [the machine]

Xavi was 11 when he arrived,

Xavi was 11 when he arrived,

because of his perpetual motion and metronomic precision passing.  — Ed.) . . . it’s up to me to speak in the name of everyone who has had the luxury of sharing a locker room with you.

Who would’ve said this day would ever arrive, you who has always been here, 17 seasons in the poster of the first team, always in the first row (because he was so short? — Ed.) Seventeen years, that’s easy to say Xavi. It carries a lot of merit because we already know that getting there is easy but it’s hard to stay on top, as you have done, and even more in the most demanding club in soccer — as you are used to reminding us.

I think none of us can imagine the first day of training in the first season after you’ve left us. You, who have always welcomed the new teammates with a smile and a word of encouragement, who have explained what FC Barcelona is and the responsibility that comes with wearing this shirt and defending this crest.

The world of soccer thanks you for all you have done, which is so, so much. We thank you for being an example for all. Thank you for thinking of the group before yourself, thank you for transmitting all the values you have learned throughout your twenty-four years in the club, thank you because your advice has provided real teaching of soccer and life lessons for us. And thank you because you have been the voice of experience in our locker room, the player who has carried the historical memory necessary to truly value what we have achieved together.

How many times have you explained to the young players that now, it’s normal to win? But the bar is set very high, many of us know, you better than any, what it is to come up from the depths. You have lived through criticism and praise, the bad times and also the best. Thank you Xavi because all this has made us stronger.

FOOTBALL - CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2008/2009 - 1/2 FINAL - 2ND LEG - CHELSEA FC v FC BARCELONA - 06/05/2009 - JOY ANDRES INIESTA / XAVI (BAR) AT THE END OF THE MATCH - PHOTO JOHN SIBLEY / ACTION IMAGES / FLASH PRESS

Younger Days

All our fans know you have defended this shirt more times than anyone. And each time you’ve done it, you’ve done it with all your passion and all your love. For that, all of us who know you understand that you will be back, because this is your home. Because your heart and soul are blaugrana — the colors of our club.

Reality has exceeded your dreams, and now you’ll have time to reflect on all you’ve achieved. Today you are accompanied by your family, your friends, and all the people who have accompanied you in soccer.

And certainly you must remember your grandfather Jaume, more culé, closer to the club than the pole of our  flag. How proud and happy he’d be if he could’ve seen all this.

All of us who love and admire you share a pride today and I personally want to thank you for all these years, not only for the magical moments which have been many, but also for the day-to-day, for how much you have helped me, for all our chats about things that weren’t soccer. Whether we could play together, what if we couldn’t, for the mutual understanding of a teacher and student who wants to learn. It’s definitely been a privilege to be at your side. You’re very great, thank you Xavi for everything you’ve given to this club and for all that you will still give. You’ll always be with us, my friend.”

Xavi Iniesta second strip

Comments in Spanish:

“La ocasión daba para que me preparase un pequeño escrito”, dijo Andrés Iniesta en el Auditori 1899. El barcelonismo se reunía para despedir a Xavi Hernández, que no pudo reprimir las lágrimas ante el emotivo relato de su colega. Esta es la carta íntegra que el manchego le ha dedicado en su despedida:

“Xavi: Capitán, compañero, amigo, máquina… Me toca hablar en nombre de todos los que hemos tenido el lujo de compartir vestuario contigo y vivir las experiencias inolvidables que nos ha regalado el fútbol.

Quién lo diría que este día llegaría, tú que siempre has estado ahí, 17 temporadas saliendo en el póster del primer equipo siempre en la fila de abajo. 17 años, se dice pronto, Xavi. Tiene mucho mérito porque ya sabemos que llegar es fácil pero lo difícil es manterse siempre arriba, como lo has hecho tú, y además en el club más exigente del mundo como sueles recordarnos

Creo que ninguno de nosotros puede imaginarse que llegue el primer día de entrenamiento de la primera temporada y tú no estés con nosotros. Tú, que siempre has recibido a los nuevos compañeros con una sonrisa y una palabra de ánimo, que les has explicado lo que es el Barça y la responsabilidad que supone llevar esta camiseta y defender este escudo

El mundo del fútbol te da las gracias por todo lo que has dado que es muchisimo .Nosotros te damos las gracias por ser un ejemplo para todos Gracias por pensar en el grupo antes que en ti, gracias por transmitir todos los valores que has aprendido a lo largo de estos 24 años en el club, gracias porque todos tus consejos han sido auténticas lecciones de fútbol y de vida para nosotros y gracias porque has sido la voz de la experiencia en nuestro vestuario el jugador que ha portado la memoria histórica necesaria para valorar de verdad todo lo que hemos conseguido juntos.

¿Cuántas veces has explicado a los jóvenes que ahora lo normal es ganar? Pero el listón está muy alto, pero muchos sabemos, tú el primero, lo que es venir de abajo. Tú has vivido las críticas y los elogios, los malos momentos y también los mejores. Gracias Xavi porque todo esto nos ha hecho más fuertes.

Cualquier culé sabe que has defendido la camiseta del Barcelona más veces que nadie. Y cada vez que lo has hecho, lo has hecho con toda tu pasión y todo tu amor. Por eso todos los que te conocemos sabemos que volverás porque esta es tu casa. Porque tienes alma y corazón blaugrana.

La realidad ha superado a tus sueños y ahora tendrás tiempo de valorar todo lo que has conseguido.

Hoy te acompañan a ti tu familia, tus amigos y las personas que siempre te han acompaãdo en el fútbol.

Y seguramente hoy te acordarás de tu abuelo Jaume, más culé que el palo de la bandera. El orgulloso y feliz que estaría si hubieras podido ver todo esto.

Un orgullo que compartimos todos los te queremos y te admiramos yo personalmente quiero darte las gracias por todos estos años, no sólo por los momentos mágicos, que han sido muchos sino por el día a día, por lo que me has ayudado, por todas nuestras charlas sobre cosas que no son del fútbol. Si podíamos jugar juntos, por si no, por esa complicidad de un maestro a un alumno que quiere aprender. En definitiva, es un privilegio estar a tu lado. Eres muy grande, gracias Xavi por todo lo que le has dado a este club y por lo mucho que te queda para dar. . Siempre nos acompañarás, amigo”.

This article has the speech and also a touching farewell video showing friends and family to wish Xavi well. http://mundod.lavoz.com.ar/futbol/barcelona-la-despedida-de-xavi-el-emotivo-discurso-de-iniesta-y-el-video-de-sus-companeros

The whole speech is here:

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