25 years since Xavi's senior debut
The current coach played his first game on 24 March 1998 away to Lleida at the Camp d'Esports
Xavi Hernández is one of the most important people in Barça history. He grew up at La Masia and went on to win absolutely everything as a player. And now he's hoping to replicate that success a a manager.
It was exactly a quarter of a century ago that fans got their first real taste of what was in store. The date was 24 March 1998, when Xavi made his senior debut at the Camp d'Esports, Lleida in a 2-1 win in the semi-finals of the Copa Catalunya.
Barça moved into command that day thanks to two goals from Jofre Mateu, who was also making his first team debut that day. Lleida pulled a goal back in the 86th minute, scored from a free kick struck by none other than Tito Vilanova, who would later manage Xavi at Barça.
Carles Busquets played the first half in goal for Barça that day, who curiously enough would join Unió Esportiva Lleida at the end of the season. His own son Sergio Busquets would start playing in the Lleda youth system and the rest is history...
Something else curious about that game is that although Louis van Gaal was the Barça manager at the time, he stepped aside to let his assistant take charge of that particular game. The Dutchman's understudy never been a head coach at senior level before, but he turned out to be very good at it. His name was José Mourinho, who thus has the honour of being the man who gave Xavi his debut!
Mourinho's success stories would mainly come outside of FC Barcelona, while Xavi's tale is very much a blaugrana one. He would win 25 major trophies as a player. As a manager, he has so far added the Spanish Super Cup, but the way things are going at the moment, there is a very strong chance that he'll have added further silverware to the collection before the season is out.