Andrés Iniesta


Andrés Iniesta

Football player infobox
playername= Iniesta


fullname = Andrés Iniesta Luján
nickname = Spanish Daniel
dateofbirth = birth date and age|1984|5|11
cityofbirth = Fuentealbilla, Albacete
countryofbirth = Spain
height = height|m=1.70 [ [http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/futbol/temporada_07-08/plantilla/jugadors/iniesta.html Barcelona site] ]
currentclub = FC Barcelona
clubnumber = 8
position = Attacking Midfielder, Centre midfielder
youthyears = 1996–2000
youthclubs = FC Barcelona Youth
years =2000–2002
2002–
clubs =FC Barcelona B
FC Barcelona
caps(goals) = 035 0(3)
157 (12) [ [http://soccernet.espn.go.com/players/stats?id=17566&cc=5901 ESPN] (Last updated: 25 Jun 2007)]
nationalyears = 2006–
nationalteam = Spain
nationalcaps(goals) = 032 0(5)
pcupdate = May 27 2008
ntupdate = August 20 2008

Andrés Iniesta Luján (born May 11, 1984 in Fuentealbilla, Albacete) is a Spanish midfielder currently playing for Barcelona. His willingness to play anywhere, coupled with a natural humility, has earned him the sobriquet "El Anti-Galáctico" from the Catalan press. [http://euro2008.uefa.com/tournament/players/player=58031/index.html]

Club career

At the age of 12, Iniesta was spotted by Barça scouts at his local club Albacete Balompié. He was switftly signed and worked his way up the club ranks. Louis van Gaal handed him his debut on 29 October, 2002, a UEFA Champions League game against Club Brugge KV. He appeared eleven times in the league in 2003-04, mostly as a deputy for Camp Nou favourite Ronaldinho, as Barça sealed second place, scoring once.

In the 2004-05 season Iniesta successfully secured a permanent slot in the first team and figured in 37 of 38 league games - more than any other player. He displayed an unselfish attitude by regularly aiding strikers Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldinho but performed poorly in front of goal - denied by the woodwork on several occasions, he found the net just twice.

Iniesta's improvement as a player continued in the 2005-06 and because of the absence of Xavi due to injury, he was given regular starts in midfield. The increased playing time offered to him at the highest level gave him the opportunity to blossom into a superb midfielder. His contribution to the team was praised by Coach Frank Rijkaard. However, his call up to the Spanish squad for the World Cup came as a surprise to football pundits.

On August 22, 2006 Andres lifted the Joan Gamper Trophy as the captain of the team after defeating German side Bayern München 4-0.

His current contract with FC Barcelona ends in June of 2014. [ [http://www.footballdatabase.com/index.php?page=player&Id=582&pn=Andr%C3%A9s_Iniesta_Luj%C3%A1n www.footballdatabase.com] ] On July 19th he was linked with a move to rivals Real Madrid. Reports in newspapers suggested Real was prepared to pay 60 million euros for him [ [http://www.ontheminute.com/news/news.php?news=6919 Real Madrid chasing Barcelona midfielder Iniesta] ] which would trigger his release clause. However, he reiterated his desire to remain with Barça by saying "I can’t do anything about it but I’d like to insist once again that I want to stay here. When I say I want to retire in Barça, I say it with all my heart." [ [http://www.fcbarcelona.cat/web/english/noticies/futbol/temporada07-08/07/n070719101316.html FCBarcelona.cat ] ]

According to the Spanish football magazine Don Balón,a member of European Sports Magazines, Iniesta has been one of the most constant performers in the last 2 seasons of Primera Division, placing 5th in 2006-2007 [cite web
url = http://www.donbalon.com/front/default.asp?OPT=RER&RERID=1964
title = RANKING DB 2006-2007
accessdate = 1 May
accessyear = 2007
author = donbalon.com
] , and 4th in 2007-2008 [cite web
url = http://www.donbalon.com/front/default.asp?OPT=RER&RERID=2005
title = Ranking DB 07-08
accessdate = 1 May
accessyear = 2008
author = www.donbalon.com
] on their annual rating system Ranking Don Balón.

On September 24th, 2008, Andrés Iniesta was chosen as one of the new Barcelona captains, with the former vice-captain, Ronaldinho, departing for AC Milan. According to local newspaper, El Mundo Deportivo, Iniesta will be the Barça 4th-choice captain, behind fellow Spaniards, Carles Puyol (1st-choice), Xavi (2nd-choice), and Víctor Valdés (3rd-choice). This new achievement by Iniesta has been welcomed by all Culés world-wide, and, especially, by the pro-Barcelona press throughout Spain.

National team

Iniesta burst on to the international scene in 2001, helping Spain win the UEFA European Under-16 Championship, and was in the squad that claimed the UEFA European Under-19 Championship the following year. In 2003 he formed part of the Spanish side that reached the FIFA World Youth Championship final in the United Arab Emirates, and was named in the FIFA all-star team.

He has captained the Spain U21s side on several occasions.

Iniesta's mother used to work as a maid in Hotel Rambla, and his father is a retired lawyer who now handles Iniesta's club career choices. Iniesta has a cousin named Javier Gaston Alberto who is 14 years old and currently plays as a striker for one of the Barcelona juvenile teams and is considered a hot prospect for the future.

He was called up to represent Spain at the World Cup 2006 on May 15 2006. Iniesta won his first cap for Spain when he was brought on at half-time in a friendly against Russia on the 27th of May, 2006.

He scored his first goal for Spain in a friendly against England on February 7 2007. Spain took the lead on 63 minutes when Iniesta thumped home a right-footed shot in off the crossbar from the right-side of the box after David Villa's cross was flicked into his path.

Iniesta played a pivotal part in Spain's qualification for Euro 2008 by scoring goals against the likes of Sweden and by assisting the strikers. Iniesta usually played in the middle of the pitch, but he was also trusted with roles further up the pitch when Spain was away from home, most notably in the game against Denmark where he was given an unfamiliar left wing position.

He was selected in Spain's squad for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. Though a stomach bug somewhat hampered his performances, he still played an integral part in the midfield. He played in the first two of Spain's group stage matches and proved an important part of the team providing a particularly notable pass for David Villa's second goal against Russia. He was not rested, unlike most of Spain's regulars, for the final group game against Greece (which Spain won 2-1 thanks to a fantastic volley from Rubén de la Red and a late winner from Daniel Güiza), and returned for the quarter final as Spain beat Italy on Penalties. Iniesta was substituted before the penalties as in his other starts. In the semi-final against Russia he played the entire 90 minutes and produced a quality cross which Xavi converted to give Spain the lead, he was also named Man of the Match [ [http://en.euro2008.uefa.com/fanzone/motm/match=301698/index.html euro2008.uefa.com - Fanzone ] ] .He played the full duration of the final in Spain's 1–0 win over Germany. He was the only spanish player who played all matches at starting lineup. Iniesta was placed in 23-men UEFA Team of the Tournament.

All-Time Club Performance

Stats accurate as of May 17, 2008 [ [http://soccernet.espn.go.com/players/stats?id=17566&cc=5901 ESPN Soccernet] ]

Trophies

FC Barcelona

* 2006-07 flagicon|Spain Supercopa de España
* 2005-06 UEFA Champions League
* 2005-06 flagicon|Spain La Liga
* 2005-06 flagicon|Spain Supercopa de España
* 2004-05 flagicon|Spain La Liga

Spain

* 2008 UEFA European Championship winner
* UEFA Under-16 Championship winner: 2001
* UEFA Under-19 Championship winner: 2002
* 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship runner-up

Individual

*Euro 2008 Team of the tournament

References

External links

*FIFA player|183857
* [http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/futbol/temporada_07-08/plantilla/jugadors/iniesta.html Profile on the official club website]
* [http://www.penyaunionblaugrana.co.uk Iniesta at Official FC Barcelona UK Penya]


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