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Andrés Iniesta, celebrant el gol contra el Màlaga / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

[[DES_1]]Andres Iniesta has enjoyed another successful 12 months – retaining the European Championships with Spain last summer and winning the league title once more with Barça. With the club season over, Iniesta is with the Spanish squad as they prepare for this month’s Confederations Cup and last week he spoke to the Spanish paper El Pais. Below we publish extracts from the piece:

El Pais. What mark would you give this season?

Andres Iniesta: I’m really proud of this season – all the difficulties we’ve had to overcome have made it very special. It’s not easy to be without your boss for so long , it makes the day to day existence very tough, but we have done our best to get through it. The role of a coach is irreplaceable. Whatever he is like, however he talks to you, whatever he’s trying to get across, the coach is our leader and at the centre of everything. His opinion is key to marking the way forward. We know we have things to improve and we know that every season it gets more difficult.

“I’m proud of the season we have put in”

EP: Do you think the team have played worse this year?

AI: No, it’s impossible to win a league with so many points and by so many points if you aren’t doing things the right way. If you lose focus for a moment the other teams will catch you out. You cannot say we’ve played badly when we’ve taken 100 points.

EP: Does the defeat against Bayern mark the end of a cycle?

AI: No. I know that there are a lot of people who want our cycle to end, but we are still in there. Cycles of dominance are about winning things for a number of years and this has lasted for a long time. We want to stretch it out because we know that when it’s over we will really have a bad time of it and it will be hard to get it back. You can’t just throw away what we have done simply because of one defeat in a tie that we came into far from our best. They came into it on a roll and they just bulldozed over us. When we have done that, we love to hear people say ”what a great team they are”, so fair’s fair – we have to admit they were better than us – they are better until we meet again next season and that’s that.

EP: Does it surprise you that Spanish football is still held in such esteem abroad, whilst it seems to be in question here?

AI: We aren’t playing to be an example to anybody, but people value not just our style of play, but also the sporting way in which we go about our business. It’s great to generate that kind of respect and the way Spain and Barça play continues to be a reference point in the world game.

“I’m not a hero – I’m just lucky enough to sometimes make people happy”

EP: What does it mean to you to be in the Confederations Cup in Brazil in 2013?

AI: It’s always important for me to be with the national side. This gives us the opportunity to play in a tournament that I’ve never been in and in a country I’ve never played in – and it’s not just any country given the history of the game. In 2009 I was injured, but now I’m in perfect condition.

EP: Isn’t it a bit of a drag having to play in what is a minor tournament after such a long season?

AI. Are you crazy? A drag to go and play with the national team in Brazil? No way! I am very excited about it. If you look at the other teams involved, this is not a minor tournament at all. I think we are all motivated by going for a title we have never won before, especially in such a football mad country. I can remember as a kid in Fuentealbilla, watching the World Cup in 1994 on the TV and I never dreamed that Spain would win it one day – and with me in the team! And now…. going off to Brazil to play in the Maracaná…as World Champions… What’s more, we have a responsibility as World Cup Winners, we which have to assume and take on with pride.

“I’m not a hero – I’m just lucky enough to sometimes make people happy”

EP. You are seen almost as a hero for Spain, do you feel that way? What does that demand of you?

AI: A Hero – no way! I know that the fans have a lot of affection for me and they show that all the time, but a hero is something else – someone who struggles against an illness or someone who has to leave his country to find work to feed his children. I am very privileged to play football and I’m just lucky enough to sometimes make people feel happy with what I do, scoring a goal or making a pass to help win a game. Anyway, I have never won anything on my own – we have all won together in the teams I’ve played in . That is our strength, knowing we are a team and nobody is better than anyone else.

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