Andrés Iniesta

Ten years after making his FCB debut in a Champions League fixture in Bruges, Andrés Iniesta has been named man of the tournament at Euro 2012. The award is particularly special because it is usually given to strikers. “In many ways, Iniesta symbolises this tournament. He is creative and incisive on and off the ball”, said Andy Roxborough, UEFA technical director, after announcing the name of the winner.

The Spanish international has always said that individual accolades are far less important to him that what the team achieves as a whole. “I play for joy. If people then make evaluations of what I do, then I’m delighted” said the man whose many honours include five Spanish Leagues, three Champions Leagues, two Copas del Rey, two Clubs World Cups, two European Championships and one World Cup.

Praise galore

“What can I say about Andrés? This makes him greater than ever, if that’s possible. He deserves it, because of the way he played throughout the tournament and the way it ended”, said Víctor Valdés, one of his closest friends in the Barça squad. “Iniesta is massive”, added Cesc Fàbregas. “He and Xavi are two of the best players in the world. And they help you to fit in”, said Jordi Alba, FC Barcelona’s latest signing.

Other members of the global football community added their own opinions on the midfield genius. Former French international Zinedine Zidane said “Iniesta has an enormous influence on the way his team plays. Spain are good, but he’s on another level”. He came to Barça at the tender age of 12 and grew up at La Masia, and is now as much an essential part of Barça as he is of the national team. And the most incredible thing of all is that despite his many achievements, he is still only 28 years old.

L’Équipe All Star XI

Barça’s Andrés Iniesta, Cesc Fàbregas and Jordi Alba were all named in the best eleven of Euro 2012, picked by prestigious French daily ‘L’Équipe'. The two other members of the Spain squad to be named in the team are Casillas and Ramos, which is completed by the Czech Republic’s Salassie, Portugal’s Pepe and Nani, England’s Gerrard, Italy’s Pirlo and Germany’s Khedira. The players were named on the basis of the points awarded for the matches they played, as long as they had appeared in a minimum of four.