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Andrés Iniesta / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The Guardian’s Sid Lowe sat down with Andrés Iniesta after last week’s defeat to Celtic FC in the Champions League. In addition to talking about his time in Barça’s youth system, Iniesta defended Barça’s ‘tiki-take’ style of play: “we play the way we do because it suits us. We don't have the players to pull it off playing a different way. People talk about 'pragmatic' football; well, for us, this is pragmatic. It's the way we like to play and it's the way we believe we have the best chance of winning.”

Iniesta’s time at La Masía

When asked about his time at La Masía, Iniesta said, “those days were the worst of my life.” He added: "You're 500km away, you're without your family. You're from a small place where you can walk everywhere and the change is huge.” Despite missing his home desperately, Iniesta found the strength to preserver: “There were lots of nights I thought: 'I want to go home.' Very hard moments. I'd think I was never going to make it. But you have to be strong. Even at the age of 12 you think: 'I have to fight. I've come this far, there's no going back.”

According to the midfielder, all successful footballers “have that gene, that competitiveness, the ability to overcome obstacles, to fight, a willingness to sacrifice. It might look easy to reach the top and stay there, to play for your country and win things, but it isn't. All players that have achieved those things have that: the big ones, the small ones, the good-looking ones, the ugly ones, the nice ones, the not so nice ones ... they all have that will to succeed.

"When you win something, that comes to mind. I remember when the referee blew the final whistle in the World Cup final, the first thing I thought of was the pain. The suffering. Instead of thinking: 'I'm a world champion,' I thought of that. It had been a hard year with injuries and I didn't think I'd make it. If you win without sacrifice you enjoy it but it's more satisfying when you have struggled. The World Cup meant so much because of the journey there."

Staunch defender of Barça’s style of play

"We feel part of something: we generate the football," said Iniesta when asked about the style of play that’s defined FC Barcelona. "People say that it is in the midfield where the style of play of a side is established and in that sense we feel responsible.

"It's not that now we are saying football is a science and playing this way you will always win," said Iniesta. "The other thing is that we play the way we do because it suits us. We don't have the players to pull it off playing a different way. People talk about 'pragmatic' football; well, for us, this is pragmatic. It's the way we like to play and it's the way we believe we have the best chance of winning.” The midfielder added: "The football that Spain and Barcelona play is not the only kind of football there is. Counterattacking football, for example, has just as much merit."

In conclusion, Iniesta said, "The way Barcelona play and the way Spain play isn't the only way. Different styles make this such a wonderful sport. But what we do is not easy, either."


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