The Barça midfielder reckons it’s perfectly normal that the Espanyol players offer a guard of honour to the new League champions this Sunday: “in the same way we had to when Real Madrid were crowned champions”.
“Casilla said this Wednesday that the players would do it. I understand their fans but footballing respect is what’s important”, according to Xavi.
The Catalan was speaking after picking up the Premi Barça Jugadors prize in recognition of his fair play during the 2011/12 season
On a Thursday morning in which fair play was at the centre of attention, Xavi Hernadez referred to the guard of honour that Espanyol will be giving Barça on Sunday in recognition of their league title: “I understand their fans’ reaction, as long as the players don’t turn their backs on us, but (the Espanyol keeper) Casilla said this Wednesday that the players would give us the guard of honour. Footballing respect is what’s important - in the same way we had to make the guard when Real Madrid were crowned champions”. Xavi also had to field questions about the reactions to the Christopher Columbus statue in the city being dressed on a Barça shirt and he insisted: “for a Barça fan like me – it seems like a fantastic idea”.
Xavi also spoke about the departing Real Madrid manager and the values which Barça hold to: “Mourinho was a controversial figure - I don’t know what the league will be like without him. We have shown that we have certain values and we have to continue behaving that way”. Answering a question about Thiago, a player many see as his natural successor, Xavi explained: “I think he is an extraordinary player. He’s not just a player for the future, he’s a player for right now. I’d tell him to stay patient because he’s a player who is bound to be a success at Barça”.
Xavi receives the Premi Barça Jugadors
Xavi Hernández was speaking at the ceremony to mark the giving of the Premi Barça Jugadors award, presided by Club President Sandro Rosell at the Sala París. The award, organised by the Agrupació Barça Jugadors and sponsored by Damm, is given to the player who exhibited most fair play during the 2011/12 season.
After the voting for the award organised via Facebook by the Agrupació, a jury met to decide which of the six nominated players -Abidal, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro, Puyol and Xavi- should be chosen. Xavi succeeds Bojan and Iniesta as past winners of the award and the President of the Agrupació, Ramon Alfonseda, commented: “it’s a special stat really – it doesn’t take into account assists or goals or the games you’ve played, but rather the human qualities of a player and his fair play”.
Rosell: “we love players like Xavi”
Sandro Rosell also expressed his satisfaction at the award: “Xavi deserves it for many reasons. First off because he respects everybody there are no opponents who will talk badly about him. He perfectly represents the values which we try and create at La Masia and he is a reference point for the rest of the team, both on and off the pitch. Both he and Ferran Olivella are two good people”.
Xavi thanked the Agrupació for their support and dedicated the award to his parents: “I want to dedicate this to my parents because really it’s they who are responsible for the values of fair play I hold – without forgetting the work done at La Masia as well”.
Special mention for Ferran Olivella
The organisers of the event always make a point of paying homage to an ex-player who was well known for his fair play and this year Ferran Olivella, currently vice-president of the Agrupació and a Barça player from 1956 to 19609 received the honour