Andres Iniesta came to the Masia in 1996 at the tender age of 12, now he is just one of the many players who've come up through the Barça academy system. Now, 15 years later, he is in a privileged position to judge the new facilities: "right now, and for some time, the Masia has been recognised throughout the world. The secret is doing things in the right way from the very start and they try to improve you as a player and as a person too."

For that reason, the inauguration has a special significance for ex-Masia residents such as Iniesta: "It's an emotional day. Important. There's a real change between the old and new Masia, you can see how things have changed and I'm thrilled to be a part of the first team and to be here for the opening."


Asked to give some advice to the youngsters at the new Masia, Iniesta recommended: "they have to be aware of what they have - to value going to school and being able to train every day - because the time goes by really quickly. It's hard to leave your family and so you have to appreciate what you have here – I'd tell them to enjoy themselves."

Special thanks to Van Gaal

As Guardiola mentioned after the game against Viktoria, not all players coming out of the academy will become world stars; it takes talent, sacrifice and lots of hard work to make it. Iniesta achieved his success in part thanks to the chance he was given when he was just 18 by Louis van Gaal: "I'll always be grateful to him because not only was he the man who gave me my debut and also gave me a lot of confidence. I remember that the six games I played for him before he left, I started all those games. There were some big names available and I got the nod, even though I was only 18. He's a coach who really values youngsters who are coming through and there were a lot of us who started with him. I'll always have good memories of him." Van Gaal will be at the inauguration this evening to receive the plaudits of his ex-pupils.

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