Date Finished: August 2018
Did I Like It? 7.5/10
The books Amazon Page
Andre Iniesta is one of the greats, not letting his height get in the way of helping Barcelona to many titles. There’s an emphasis on family and his teammates throughout the book, they are his desire for getting out there and doing his best. There are other tidbits from various people who he has trusted throughout his life, which doesn’t detract from the quality of the book.
What I Highlighted:
People put my name into Google and they think they know me. But they don’t.
It’s my book, and its final composition is mine, not that of my collaborators who I am sure, in certain given moments, would have modified the story or put their own different focus on things. I wanted to explain how I see things, or, if you prefer, how I feel about things, and how the people that I believe know me well, see me.
This was never about putting together a novel; it was about constructing a journalistic record of my life and career.
We should know how to look out for the people we have around us so as not to feel alone, even though we all take refuge in a little solitude from time to time.
The best way for me to show my affection for the club is by honouring the shirt and by being a good team-mate, giving everything on the pitch at all times, and always representing the institution with loyalty and dignity.
‘The obstacles that we encounter along the way help us to see life from another perspective and to lift ourselves up once more with even greater strength.’
As I have already said, I just do what comes naturally to me. If I was born all over again, I would play the same way.
Sometimes I even get a feeling for what is going to happen during a game on the day before. I visualize it and then it happens that way.
I consider myself a citizen of the world who is lucky enough to enjoy people’s affection.
It was like I was on the edge, somewhere I’d never been before, never experienced. Confidence had driven my career. I always felt confident in myself, in my ability. Confidence was always there. So when it deserted me, I felt vulnerable, like the victim of something that terrified me, that I couldn’t cope with. I felt a kind of fatalism. There’s nothing in life harder than the feeling that you are no longer you. It’s frightening.
The worst moments always follow the best ones.
‘My father is a bricklayer,’ replied Iniesta, ‘but he will stop doing that when I make it as a player. Maybe he’ll become a construction magnate, I don’t know, but I want to bring him down from the scaffolding.’
‘When I was not playing and he thought I deserved to be in the team, he would say so. And when people stick up for you, then they earn your respect and your affection. It would have been easy to go along with what the majority were saying about me without making waves. He didn’t have to defend me. But he did. And he never asked me for anything in return. I never asked anything from him and he never asked anything from me. You do things just because you believe they are right and that is how he has behaved with me.
I knew it was the best thing for me and for my future. But I had to go through the very bitter experience of separating from my family, of not seeing them every day or feeling them close to me. It was tough. It was my decision to do it, but it was so hard.
But in life it is not necessary to harm anyone. I just did what I thought was the best thing for me and what 99 percent of people would have done in my situation.
‘Now looking back, I think it was absolutely the right decision, because we saved ourselves that teary definitive goodbye that would have been terrible. ‘I’m okay with it now; but back then I wasn’t. Now I understand it; before I just felt a sense of neglect, as if I had been almost totally abandoned.’
I could try to imagine what it must have been like for my parents and my grandfather, but until you are a parent yourself you cannot really understand what they were going through at the time.
But you get used to things in the end, because you think about why you are there and what you are trying to achieve. I wanted to be there. And as bad as it got sometimes, there was no way that I wanted to go home. I had to stay and see through my ambition of being in La Masia and becoming a Barça player.’
The wait before they visited again would be carefully counted. ‘I would cross off the days in my school diary. I would count down the days until Christmas or Easter, or until the summer holidays. That was how I got by month after month. I have always been very family-orientated, but those days I spent in La Masia have made me even more so for the rest of my life.
Talent comes naturally, but all the rest has to be worked on. If you don’t work, you make life harder for your team-mates.
‘The pain of not being in the starting XI for that final went away a long time ago,’ Iniesta says. ‘I don’t even like to think of it as something to overcome any more. Because it’s my team, my club, and I was delighted to win the European Cup. But on a personal level, it was one of the hardest moments I have experienced.’ The pain had gone. But that doesn’t mean he understood it. Not then, not now, not ever. ‘If I’m honest, I already suspected something. People didn’t realize, but I did. The last league game we played before the final was in Seville and I was on the bench. Van Bommel was too.’
‘I have always been strong. Stronger than people realize. At that moment, once I knew that I was not in the team, I focused on my only desire. I just wanted the chance to get out on the pitch and help my team-mates to win the final. I really, really wanted to play and play well. All the more so with the way the game went …’
‘I would do the same again. For my club, for myself, for my team-mates, for my friends and family, and for the supporters. The sportsman has something special inside of him that takes over in difficult situations. I was driven on by the desire, the passion, the feeling, and the pride of being a footballer. It was not easy. We were up against the clock, the final was so close. But I wouldn’t have missed it for anything in the world. It was my prize for everything that had happened to me that year and for the last Champions League final in Paris. It was my duty to play in Rome. I owed it above all to myself. I just wanted to get out on that pitch and play that match. I could not allow myself to miss it. It meant too much, there were too many sporting and personal connotations; too many for me not to be in Rome.’ There was no choice.
The toll was very high, but I would take exactly the same road if I had to choose again. ‘It was worth the suffering.’
The ball was Newton’s apple. And so that made me Newton. I just needed to wait for gravity to take its course. You control the situation. You decide the height the ball is at when you hit it, how hard you hit it, and where you send it. In that moment of silence, it’s just you and the ball.
The truth is I don’t like to think too much about the process. When you think you lose a tenth of a second, and if you think too much you can miss.
And I wanted to play an important part. I wanted to take responsibility and I had the energy levels to do so. I felt no fear. With the ball at my feet, I was empowered. And I’m not saying that just because of the goal because that was just one of the many moves we put together.
‘I don’t know how to explain so much happiness,’ reflects Andrés. ‘It is just a feeling of infinite pleasure to have something that you always thought was just out of reach and suddenly it is in your grasp, after so many setbacks that season had stood in my path. But in the end, football pays you back for everything. If you work hard and you believe, and if you feel this sport and live for it, then it rewards you.’
‘There are moments in your life when you have to take responsibility and I like to do so, more than ever before,’
That is why for these strokes of genius you always need at least two players: the giver and the receiver, the one who sees the pass and plays it, and the one who receives it and finishes the move.
The two have to speak the same language. One intelligent player on his own cannot do it, he needs an intelligent team-mate. Then if you ask them how they have done it, they will not know how to answer you.
The more I think, the more likely I am to make the wrong decision.
After these eight years, almost nine that we have been together, we have experienced so many things together that I find it very difficult to express in just a few lines all the feelings I have for you, Anna, and everything that you awaken in me as a person. I want you to know that there are many things that I have not mentioned, but I only have words of pride, recognition, respect and affection towards you as a friend, as my partner, my wife and the mother of our children. There are countless special things that we have lived through together. Meeting for the first time and getting to know each other, trips we have taken, holidays as a couple, the birth of our children, our wedding which was such a magical day. We have enjoyed all of them. But you have also shown me how special you are in the less favourable moments. You are unique, you are brave, you have an enormous heart. You have shown me these things in the life that we have made together. Thank you for the enormous strength you showed when they gave us the news that we had lost our child. After going through all that we went through, we lost it but you were strong. Not everyone manages to get through these delicate moments, Anna. But you did it. I was by your side. We were all by your side. But it was you, Anna, it was you who came through it. It made us stronger and now we will always have an angel that accompanies us. The experience has helped us to grow and improve. And if there is one thing I am sure of, it is that with you … the best is always yet to come. Your ‘Papi’