Xavi Hernández: “Reality is better than my dreams"

Xavi on the cover of BARÇA Magazine
Xavi Hernándex, the player with the most games played for FC Barcelona, sits down with BARÇA Magazine to talk about his career

“It’s very difficult to manage egos. Luckily we have a lot of egos in the dressing room but all of us know our role, if you don’t focus on the collective you don’t win,” says Xavi

Xavi Hernández, a living legend at FC Barcelona, started his career with the team 15 seasons ago and since then he’s become the player with the most games played for Barça and the the player with the most titles won with the Catalan team. These are just a few of the reasons the 62nd edition of BARÇA Magazine zeroed in on the vice-captain. “Reality is better than my dreams. You dream of winning a league title, a Champions League … but three Champions Leagues, six league titles and, if we win this year, seven, a World Cup, two European Championships! You don’t really realize it because you’re part of the routine, part of the day to day work. When I retire from football I suppose I’ll realise what we’ve truly done,” said the midfielder.

He added: “being a Culé and being from here, it makes you enjoy the victories twice as much. I never thought I would be nominated for a Ballon d’Or or other individual awards. It was unthinkable when I started. But I was able to experience this thanks to Barça, the team, the current generation of players we have in the squad and the players who featured for La Roja.”

The importance of the collective

“It’s very difficult to manage egos. Luckily we have a lot of egos in the dressing room but all of us know our role, if you don’t focus on the collective you don’t win. These are lessons that are applicable to football and to regular life. Look at Leo, he’s the best player in the history of the sport. He knows that without his team he’s not the same player. When he plays for Argentina he’s still the best, but in the end it’s the collective, the group, that makes you win,” said Xavi. He added: “the team’s four captains are from here, the fifth [Leo] is as well, and luckily we have players that came up through the youth system who can change a game. This is always a positive thing.”

Along these lines, when asked about Sergio Busquets and a possible generational substitute, Xavi was clear: “Sergio has it all: he’s responsible, he’s a winner, he seems like a veteran, he’s clear, people listen to him, he’s a leader and he’s only 24. I hope he and Gerard [Piqué] take leadership roles, in addition to Jordi Alba, Thaigo, Sergi Roberto… all of these home-grown players should be Barça’s next generation of first team players.”

Winning by playing well

FC Barcelona has been able to satisfy its fans over the last four or five years, but the vice-captain knows that simply winning isn’t enough: “what other clubs expect to be enough is not enough here, winning, hoping for a miracle after playing 70 minutes of poor football. You have to play well here in order to win and that’s what we strive for … it’s true that we are struggling on defence and that we’ve conceded a lot of goals, but we have a 13-point advantage of the team in second and what is talked about is that we concede a lot of goals!”

During the interview with BARÇA Magazine, Xavi analysed Barça’s collective play and he talked about what he contributes to the team: “I depend a lot on my team-mates. All players depend on their team-mates, but I am extremely dependent on them. I’m a passer, I help myself through my team-mates, I’m not physically strong, I’m not good in one-on-ones, I’m not very agile, but I’m a good passer and quick mentally, that’s what Barça has shown me. I try to take advantage of these qualities as much as I can.”

Pleased that he will retire at Barça

Xavi went on to lament the fact that players like Amor or Guardiola didn’t retire at the Club and that’s why he believes he’s fortunate: “I can now see that I will end my career here and I’m very happy about that. I’m not setting any goals for myself, I simply want to enjoy it, keep on winning, and contribute to the team and stay connected to Barça … and if it can be for the rest of my life, even better. I’m at home here, Barça is my life.” Even though he’s won 20 titles as a Blaugrana, Xavi’s hunger for victory hasn’t diminished. He wants more, it’s in his genes. “I’m lucky to have a father who advised me well, that I had fantastic managers, especially Joan Vilà, who will always be my footballing father.”