Andrés Iniesta joined Barca as a twelve-year-old in 1996 after scouts had spotted him at the Brunette Tournament playing for Albacete..
From the start he progressed rapidly through the club's various youth teams and was promoted to the Barça B team for the 2000-01 season, where he almost immediately became the team's main playmaker under coach Josep Maria Gonzalvo.
Andrés' dream of making the first team finally came true in October 2002 when he was picked to play in the Champions League game against Bruges in Belgium. Van Gaal's Barça won that evening and Andrés made an excellent impression.
Now a recognised squad member, Iniesta had established a place for himself through hard work allied to his undoubted natural skills. In the shadow of some of the team's bigger names, Andres became a key piece of the League winning team in 2004-05, winding up as Rijkaard's most used player, figuring in 35 of the 38 league games. Iniesta also played 8 Champions League matches, scoring twice.
But he really established himself as a first team player in the 2005-06 season. Playing in central midfield in place of Xavi, who was sidelined for a long time with injury, Iniesta became one of the key players in the Barça side that won the League and the Champions League. He played in 33 League fixtures and 11 in the Champions League.
Iniesta continued to develop in the 2006-07 season and was one of the players most used by Frank Rijkaard in that campaign. He played in 37 out of 38 League games, scoring 6 goals, his best return to date. In the 2007-08 season, and by now wearing the number 8 shirt, the midfielder continued to be an ever present in the side until a knee injury sidelined him for the last few games of the campaign.
In the 2008/09 season, Iniesta was even better than ever. Playing in a central or wide role he delighted the whole world with his amazing dribbling skills. He grew into one of the essential components of the Barça engine, and took the team to the Champions League final in Rome thanks to his famous goal in the final seconds of the semi final at Stamford Bridge.
Injuries affected his contribution in the 2009-10 season when he was already one of the leading players in the team. He played 29 matches in the league, 9 in the Champions League and 3 in the Cup, and coupled to his performances for Spain, was named the second best player in the world. In the 2010/11 season, Iniesta was back to his best and in an injury free campaign he helped the team to another Liga and another Champions League. He played 50 matches, his second highest tally as an FCB player.
On April 14, 2012, when he came on as sub against Levante, Iniesta made his 400th appearance for Barcelona, only the tenth player to make that milestone. A week later, on April 21, 2012, Iniesta’s record run of 55 league games without defeat came to an end against Real Madrid. He hadn’t experienced a loss in a Barça shirt since September 2010, the day Barça lost to Hercules on the second day of the league season.
He played 46 games in the 2011/12 season, contributing eight goals, and also collecting yet more winner medals, this time for the Spanish Supercup, the European Supercup, the Clubs World Cup and the Copa del Rey. It was also his finest goalscoring season in Europe, with three goals.
Andrés Iniesta has also been a regular feature of the Spanish national side since the 2006 World Cup, and at Euro 2012 was named player of the tournament in Poland in Ukraine, where he also collected his second winners medal.
But Iniesta’s finest hour in the national jersey was July 11, 2010, when the midfielder’s goal just four minutes from the end of extra time against Holland won Spain the World Cup for the first time ever. He has won everything there is to win in world football, and both club and international level, and still has many more years of top level football ahead of him.
2012/13 FC Barcelona 2011/12 FC Barcelona 2010/11 FC Barcelona 2009/10 FC Barcelona 2008/09 FC Barcelona 2007/08 FC Barcelona 2006/07 FC Barcelona 2005/06 FC Barcelona 2004/05 FC Barcelona 2003/04 FC Barcelona 2002/03 FC Barcelona
Brujas-FC Barcelona (0-1, Champions), 29/10/2002
FIFA Ballon d'Or: Second place 2010 UEFA Team of the Year: 2009, 2010