Xavier "Xavi" Hernández Creus (Catalan: [ˈ(t)ʃaβi ərˈnandəz ˈkɾɛws] Spanish: [ˈtʃaβj erˈnandeθ ˈkɾeus]; born 25 January 1980) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Qatari club Al Sadd SC. Xavi came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, at the age of 11 and made his first-team debut against Mallorca in August 1998. Since then he has played 700 matches, scored 82 goals and made more than 180 assists for over 50 players. Xavi is the first player in Barcelona's history to play 150 international matches. Highly regarded for his humble persona and team ethos, Xavi is viewed as being the embodiment of the tiki-taka passing style of play, and is considered to be one of the greatest central midfielders of all time. He is additionally considered to be the greatest Spanish player ever.
Xavi won the U-20 World Cup for Spain in 1999, and the Olympic Silver Medal at the 2000 Olympics. Since making his senior team debut in 2000, he has been capped 133 times for the Spanish national team, and has been seen as an influential figure in the team's tremendous success. He played an integral role in Spain's victory at the 2010 World Cup, as well as their successes at both Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. He had a 91 percent passing success rate at the 2010 World Cup and was named in the World Cup All-star Team. He was named Player of the Tournament by UEFA at Euro 2008. He was additionally named in the UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament in 2008 as well as 2012. After the 2014 World Cup, Xavi announced his retirement from international football.
Xavi won 28 trophies, only surpassed by Andrés Iniesta as the most successful Spanish player in history. He came third in the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, followed by third place for its successor award, the FIFA Ballon d'Or, in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, he was runner up to Lionel Messi for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. He has been awarded the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker award for 4 years: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. Xavi has been included in the UEFA Team of the Year for 5 years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), and has been voted into the FIFA World XI on 6 occasions: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. At Euro 2012, with his 2 assists in the Final, Xavi became the first player to register assists in two separate Euro finals, having set up the lone goal in the Final 4 years earlier. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in 2012.
Born in Terrassa, Barcelona, Catalonia, Xavi is a product of FC Barcelona's La Masia youth system, which he joined at the age of 11. His father, Joaquim, was a former player for Sabadell in the first division. Xavi made his way through the youth and reserve teams and was a key member of Josep Maria Gonzalvo's FC Barcelona B team that won promotion to the Second Division.
Although he was initially inspired by compatriot playmaker Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, as a child, Xavi additionally watched a lot of English football, and held midfielders John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne and Matt Le Tissier in high regard, as well as Paul Scholes.
His progression through the teams earned him a first-team appearance in a Copa Catalunya match against Lleida on 5 May 1998 and he scored his first goal on 18 August 1998 in the Super Cup final against RCD Mallorca. His début in La Liga came against Valencia CF on 3 October 1998 in a 3–1 victory for Barcelona. Initially featuring intermittently both for the reserve and senior teams, Xavi scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory over Real Valladolid when Barcelona were tenth in the league. Sustained impressive performance meant that he became a key member of Louis van Gaal's title-winning team. Xavi finished his debut season with 26 matches played and winning the Spanish League. He additionally was named 1999 La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year. Xavi became Barcelona's principal playmaker after an injury to Pep Guardiola in the 1999–2000 season.
In these years FC Barcelona was on the verge of bankruptcy and struggling to keep its place in La Liga's elite. Playing in the midfield, but with more defensive role, Xavi made 20 assists and scored 7 goals in those two seasons. On 16 March 2002, Xavi scored his first goal in El Clásico.
Xavi was named the vice-captain in the 2004–05 season, in which he helped Barcelona win La Liga and the Spanish Supercup. He was named La Liga Spanish Player of the Year in 2005.
In the 2005–06 season, Xavi tore the ligaments in his left knee in training; he was out of action for four months, missing a part of the season, but returned in April and was on the substitutes bench for Barcelona's win in the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. He additionally won La Liga and the Spanish Supercup again.
After being named Player of the Tournament at Euro 2008, Xavi spoke to Bayern Munich about a transfer, but newly appointed Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola convinced him that he was too important to the club to be allowed to leave.
He was a main part of Barcelona's treble and scored the fourth goal in the 4–1 win in the 2009 Copa del Rey Final against Athletic Bilbao, with a free kick. In La Liga, among a large number of games, one of the most significant is the 6–2 El Clásico victory vs Real Madrid on 2 May. He assisted 4 out of 6 goals (once to Puyol, once to Henry and twice to Messi). Xavi helped Barcelona win the 2009 Champions League Final versus Manchester United, which ended 2–0, assisting the second goal by crossing to Lionel Messi for his header. Prior to the match, Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson heaped praise on the much lauded central midfield combination of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, stating; "I don't think Xavi and Iniesta have ever given the ball away in their lives. They get you on that carousel and they can leave you dizzy." Xavi was voted "UEFA Champions League best midfielder" for his contribution throughout Barcelona's victorious 2008–09 UEFA Champions League campaign. Xavi was La Liga's highest assisting player with 20 assists. He was additionally the highest assisting player in the Champions League with 7 assists. Xavi earned 29 assists overall that season.
Xavi was under contract to Barça until 2014 after extending his contract throughout the 2008–09 season. The new contract made him one of the club's biggest earners, with a salary of €7.5 million a year.
During the 2009–10 season, journalists increasingly noted Xavi's contribution to the Barcelona team. For example:
"Quite simply the best midfielder of modern football. It could even be argued that Xavi and Matthäus are the two best in this position in history. World class for several years now, it is the past three seasons in particular where the 30-year-old has been untouchable. Xavi’s passing is up there with Michel Platini, he creates countless goals with genius through balls while virtually never relinquishing possession."
In the 2009–10 season, Xavi again topped the assists table and provided both the assists in Barcelona's 2–0 victory against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. He was acclaimed the second best player of Barcelona in a season-long voting as Barcelona won the league title with a record 99 points. On 3 June 2010, the Madrid-based newspaper Marca awarded Xavi third place in the annual Trofeo Alfredo di Stéfano award for the best player in La Liga, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
On 9 June 2010, Xavi signed a new 4-year contract with the club, which might be automatically renewed up to 30 June 2016 based on number of games played. On 29 November he scored his third goal against arch-rivals Real Madrid in a 5–0 home win. On 18 December he scored another goal against RCD Espanyol in a 1–5 win. In the Champions League, Xavi scored a valuable goal against English side Arsenal throughout a home match in the UEFA Champions League that saw Barcelona passing through to the quarter-finals with an assist by teammate David Villa.
He was one of the three finalists for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or, alongside Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta. He finished third on the vote behind Messi and Iniesta. He narrowly defeated Messi to win Player of the Year designation from World Soccer Magazine.
On 2 January 2011, in a league match against Levante UD, Xavi made his 549th appearance for the club in all competitions, matching the record held by Migueli. Following this match Xavi is the player with most appearances with Barcelona of all time. On 28 May, Xavi was imperious in the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium in London as Barcelona defeated Manchester United in the showpiece for the second time in three seasons, winning 3-1.
Xavi began the 2011–12 season in fine goalscoring form and seemed to grow in his influence of the team notwithstanding the long anticipated return of Cesc Fàbregas and the promotion of Thiago Alcântara to create added competition for places in Barça's attacking midfield positions.
On 18 December, in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup Final in Yokohama, Japan, Barcelona won 4-0 against Santos as Xavi scored a goal and made an assist to Lionel Messi. After the ball was slightly behind him, Xavi brought the ball down with a cocked leg, effectively using his ankle to control it, before slipping a pass through to Messi, who scored the first goal.
Xavi scored the winning goal in the Group H game against Milan, a vital match for Barcelona's progression in the UEFA Champions League. In total, Xavi gave the best goalscoring return of his career in 2011/12 season with ten Liga goals, two in the Copa del Rey – which Barcelona won – and one in the FIFA Club World Cup final success.
On 18 December 2012, it was announced that Barcelona renewed the contract of Xavi, extending it until 30 June 2016. Xavi scored a goal vs Real Madrid in the match that Barcelona won 3–2. Xavi was named into the FIFA World XI, along with teammates Dani Alves, Andrés Iniesta and Lionel Messi.
In June 2014, it was announced that Xavi would be leaving the club. Notwithstanding on 22 July, after talks with newly appointed manager and former teammate Luis Enrique, Xavi decided to stay at Camp Nou for one more season. He was additionally appointed as club captain. On 25 April 2015, Xavi made his 500th La Liga appearance and became the eighth player in history to do so. On 4 June, a farewell tribute was held at Barcelona for Xavi with players, managers, friends and family paying tribute to him.
On 6 June 2015, Xavi appeared as a 78th-minute substitute for Andrés Iniesta to make his final appearance for Barcelona throughout the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final, as the club won its fifth European Cup by beating Juventus at Berlin's Olympiastadion. Xavi, as the club captain lifted the trophy. This made Barcelona the first club in history to win the treble of domestic league, domestic cup and European Cup twice. Xavi, Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Gerard Piqué, Pedro Rodríguez, Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves are the only players to have been a part of both treble winning teams.
On 21 May 2015, Xavi announced that he would join Qatari club Al Sadd at the end of the season, on a three-year contract. According to his agent, the deal would involve him fitting an ambassador for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country, and additionally start his coaching qualifications. He made his debut for Al-Sadd in a 4–0 win over Mesaimeer on 13 September 2015, assisting in the team's first goal. On the following match he scored his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw with Umm Salal. Al Sadd ended the league campaign in third position putting them in a place for next season AFC Champions League. Xavi scored three goals throughout the season. In the champions league, Al Sadd were knocked out from the Qualifying rounds by Emariti side Al Jazira on penalties, Xavi missed his spot kick. In the 2016 Qatar Cup Al Sadd were knocked out by El Jaish SC in the semi final.
He played for the nation at the 2000 Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2004, 2006 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2008, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2010 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2012, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
UEFA Euro 2008
Xavi was named Euro 2008's player of the tournament after Spain defeated Germany 1–0 in the final. Xavi was dominant in midfield where his metronomic passing and reading of the game was pivotal to Spain's success, in addition to making tackles, shaping attacks and driving Spain to their first silverware after the 1964 European Championships. Andy Roxburgh, head of UEFA's technical committee, said: "We have chosen Xavi because he epitomises the Spanish style of play. He was influential in the whole possession, passing and penetrating kind of game that Spain played."
Xavi scored the first goal of Spain in the semi-final against Russia, which Spain won 0–3. In the final, he made a pass, rolled towards the German area, from which Fernando Torres scored the winning goal.
2010 World Cup
Xavi was named in Spain's squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with Spain eventually winning their first World Cup. He provided the most number of accurate passes, 599 with a passing success rate of 91%, and he crossed the ball inside the 18-yard box more than any additional player performing in the tournament. For example, in the final he made 57 accurate forward half passes. Xavi additionally covered a lot of distance on the pitch – 80.20 km throughout the competitions, which average at approximately 11.5 km per game. In the final he covered a distance of almost 15 kilometres.
During the round of 16 match against Portugal, Xavi provided a backheel pass in the 63rd minute to David Villa. Although Villa had his shot with his left foot blocked by Eduardo, he then put in the rebound with his right foot for the winning goal. Xavi crossed a corner out to the edge of the six-yard box in the semi-finals against Germany, where Puyol made a header into the top-right corner.
UEFA Euro 2012
Xavi played for Spain at Euro 2012, which Spain won by defeating Italy 4–0 in the final. Xavi attempted 136 passes (127 completed, 94 percent success rate) throughout Spain's 4–0 victory in the group stage match against the Republic of Ireland, more than any additional player in a European Championship match. The previous record had been set by Ronald Koeman at 117 in Euro 1992 match between Holland and Denmark. Xavi and Iniesta made 229 passes in this match, more than the combined Irish 11 managed. "Pum, pum, pum, pum" was how Xavi described the rhythmic sound of the ball constantly moving between himself and his midfield partner.
With Xavi providing two assists in the final, one for Jordi Alba, and another one, like 4 years ago, for Fernando Torres, he became the first player to register assists in two European Championship finals. Spain's UEFA Euro 2012 victory made Xavi the most successful player in Spanish football history, a feat that he previously shared with Carles Puyol, who missed the entire tournament.
On 5 August 2014, following the 2014 FIFA World Cup where Spain were eliminated at the group stage, Xavi announced his retirement from international football having made 133 appearances for the national side in a 14-year period. Spain's World Cup winning manager Vicente del Bosque paid tribute, stating that Xavi was 'a key part of the team's style of play' and 'he was more important to us than even the manager', and added 'We will miss him both on and off the pitch. He is a player who we hold in great esteem both personally and as a player. He is and always will be a person and a player who's greatly valued by the federation, the coaching staff and by myself.'
Style of play
The claim that Xavi is one of the best central midfielders of all-time relies largely on his ability to find and exploit space as a playmaker. As he said: "That's what I do: look for spaces. All day. I'm always looking". Finding space, he would appear for a team-mate to receive and then move the ball on, with his coach Pep Guardiola putting it: ‘I get the ball, I give the ball, I get the ball, I give the ball’.
Xavi's vision, pinpoint accurate passing and world class ball control allowed him to dictate the flow of play while rarely relinquishing possession, most notably displayed throughout Spain's 2010 World Cup victory where he had a 91 percent passing success rate for the tournament. His ability to control a few matches has earned him the sobriquet, "The Puppet Master". A style introduced to the club by former coach Johan Cruyff, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell believed Xavi, together with Messi, Iniesta and Busquets, perfected the club's tiki-taka style of play.
Xavi has a sponsorship deal with German sportswear and equipment supplier, Adidas, and has appeared in Adidas commercials alongside Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Robin van Persie. Xavi wears Adidas Predator LZ football boots.
In November 2014, Xavi appeared in FIFA's "11 against Ebola" campaign with a selection of top football players from around the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Gareth Bale and Didier Drogba. Under the slogan "Together, we can beat Ebola", FIFA's campaign was done in conjunction with the Confederation of African Football and health experts, with the players holding up eleven messages to raise awareness of the disease and ways to combat it.
Since July 2013, Xavi has been married to Nuria Cunillera. Their daughter, Asia, was born on 3 January 2016.
- As of match played 14 September 2015.
|Club||Season||League||Copa del Rey||Europe||Other||Total|
- All appearances in UEFA Champions League
- Appearances in Supercopa de España
- Five appearances in UEFA Champions League, Four appearances in UEFA Cup
- All appearances in UEFA Cup
- One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, 7 appearances in UEFA Champions League
- Two appearances and one goal in Supercopa de España, two appearances in FIFA Club World Cup
- One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, 11 appearances and one goal in UEFA Champions League
- Two appearances and one goal in Supercopa de España, two appearances in FIFA Club World Cup
- One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, 9 appearances and 1 goal in UEFA Champions League
- Two appearances in Supercopa de España, one appearance and one goal in FIFA Club World Cup
- As of 13 June 2014.
- La Liga: 1998–99, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15
- Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15
- Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
- UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15
- UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011
- FIFA World Cup: 2010
- UEFA European Football Championship: 2008, 2012
- Summer Olympics Silver Medal: 2000
- FIFA Confederations Cup Silver Medal: 2013
- FIFA World Youth Championship: 1999
- World Soccer Player of the Year: 2010
- UEFA Euro 2008 Player of the Tournament: 2008
- UEFA Best Player in Europe Award Second place: 2011
- FIFA Ballon d'Or Third place: 2010, 2011
- Ballon d'Or Third place: 2009
- FIFA World Player of the Year Third place: 2009
- UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match: 2009
- UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year: 2008–09
- IFFHS World's Best Playmaker: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
- La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year: 1999
- La Liga Spanish Player of the Year: 2005
- La Liga Player of the Year: 2nd place 2010, 3rd place 2011
- La Liga Midfielder of the Year: 2009, 2010, 2011.
- FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2010
- UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2008, 2012
- FIFA/FIFPro World XI: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
- ESM Team of the Year: 2008–09, 2010–11, 2011–12
- FIFA Club World Cup Silver Ball: 2011
- FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball: 2009
- Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2013
- UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year (published 2015)