Iniesta, amb el trofeu al Millor Jugador de l'Any de la UEFA / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

“I have been and continue to be in the ideal club to grow as a player - this is why I’m the player I am today. I have no doubt,” said Andrés Iniesta in an interview with Barça Magazine on Thursday. The midfielder also touched on the evolving nature of football, his decade-long career with FC Barcelona and the importance of winning within a football philosophy.

Barça’s style of play and the importance of winning

When asked about how opponents deal with Barça’s style of play, Iniesta noted that “teams are better prepared physically and technically. Football has changed tactically. I wish it were not so, because now it’s more difficult to surprise our opponents.” The midfielder also commented that “we’ll never lose the talent in football, this is the essence of the sport.”

“It’s important to believe in a style of play, in a player profile, but it always has to be married to success. We can’t forget that without succeeding, the story is different.” Iniesta is no foreigner to success as he’s racked up 22 team titles in his career not to mention being named the MVP of the 2012 Euro and winning the 2012 Best Player in Europe Award, among many others. “When I stop, I can only think that my wildest dreams can’t measure up to what has happened to me. It’s impossible. My only dream was to play at the highest level, to play for the first team. What has happened to me simply brilliant.”

His first game at the Camp Nou and the influential figures that shaped his career

Louis van Gaal, the manager the led FC Barcelona to back-to-back La Liga titles from 1997 to 1999, was the man to give Iniesta his first taste of FC Barcelona first team football. “I’m very grateful for what Van Gaal did for me,” said Iniesta, who added: “with him I played six games before he was sacked. I learned a lot during this period. Sometimes agitated situations, when you’re young, can leave you a bit lost and make you lose sight of the goal of reaching the first team, but it helped me continue my formation [as a player].”

When asked about his formation as a footballer at Can Barça, Iniesta said: “I don’t know if I would be the same player that I am today if I had played somewhere else, I don’t know if I would be better or worse,” said Iniesta, “but I have been and continue to be in the ideal club to grow as a player - this is why I’m the player I am today. I have no doubt.”

Iniesta’s first game at the Camp Nou, when he was 15 years old, was the final of the Nike International Premier Cup. The midfielder noted that the four men that have had an immense impact on his development attended the match: Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, the manager that called him up for training sessions with the first team when he was 16; Louis van Gaal, who named him to the starting team in the Champions League match against Club Brugge; Frank Rijkaard, key manager in Iniesta’s development as a first team player, and Pep Guardiola, who not only awarded Iniesta with the Nike International Premier Cup trophy but also guided the player to the pinnacle of football.