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Getting To Know: Xavi Hernández

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Full name: Xavier Hernández i Creus
Squad No: 6
Position: Midfielder
Date of birth: 25 January 1980
Place of birth: Terrassa, Spain
Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight: 68 kg (150 lbs)

Xavi was born in Terrassa, a city in the east central region of Catalunya, approximately 25 kilometers from Barcelona. He joined La Masia at the age of 11 as a midfielder and quickly progressed through Barcelona's youth ranks. In 1997 he earned a promotion to Barcelona B and immediately became a key member in the squad that won a promotion to the Segunda División. His senior debut came at the beginning of the next season; on 18 August 1998 he played against RCD Mallorca in the Spanish Super Cup and scored Barcelona's only goal. His league debut came a little later, on October 3 of the same year he played against Valencia CF.

In the 1998-99 season he was officially still a member of the B team but occasionally he was given a spot on the first team. The following season, after Pep Guardiola injured himself, Xavi was given a regular starting position and since then El Maestro has ruled Barcelona's midfield as their primary playmaker. He was named vice-captain in the 2004-05 season, but his next season was by far his worst at the club. He missed five months because of torn ligaments in his left knee, but he made a full recovery and hasn't been bothered by it since.

Xavi was an integral part of Barcelona's sextuple winning season. He put together many masterful performances that year but none was better than his four assist night in the 6-2 win over Real Madrid. He finished that season with an amazing number of 29 helpers. On 2 January 2011 Xavi equaled the club record, held by Migueli, for the most appearances in all competitions. Three days later, in a game against Athletic Bilbao, he became the sole owner of the record. His Barcelona totals now sit at 553 games played for the senior squad as well as 61 appearances for Barca B. He has scored 60 goals since he joined the reserve team in 1997, 56 of them for the first team.

Xavi has also been a regular member of the Spanish national team. His international career starter with Spain's youth teams and was a key member of the U-20 World Cup winning campaign. He made his senior team debut on 15 November 2000 in a friendly game against the Netherlands. Since then he has been a constant in the national team and he is currently fourth on the Spain's most capped players list with 98 appearances and has also scored 12 goals for La Furia Roja.

Profile
Considered as one of the best playmaking midfielders of all time, Xavi is a magnificent technician. He looks to hold onto the ball in tight spaces and rarely loses possession. His passing abilities have been well documented and he has shown incredible vision to find his teammates. Xavi is also a dangerous free-kick taker, especially from shorter distances. He is a tireless worker who relishes a big challenge, but he has been slowed down a bit due to Achilles tendon problems.

Honors
FC Barcelona

  • La Liga (5): 1998-99, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10

  • Copa del Rey (1): 2008-09

  • Supercopa de España (4): 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010

  • UEFA Champions League (2): 2005-06, 2008-09

  • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2009

  • FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2009

Spain

  • FIFA World Cup (1): 2010

  • UEFA European Football Championship (1): 2008

  • FIFA U-20 World Cup (1): 1999

Individual

  • La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year (1): 1999

  • La Liga Spanish Player of the Year (1): 2005

  • UEFA Euro Player of the Tournament (1): 2008

  • FIFPro World XI (3): 2008, 2009, 2010

  • World's Best Playmaker (3): 2008, 2009, 2010

  • FIFA Team of the Year (1): 2008

  • UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Year (1): 2008-09

  • European Sports Magazine Team of the Year (1): 2008-09

  • UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match (1): 2009

  • La Liga Midfielder of the Year (1): 2009

  • FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball (1):2009

  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): 2010

  • Prince of Asturias Awards (1): 2010

  • World Soccer Player of the Year (1): 2010

  • Premi Catalunya de I'Esport (1): 2010

Xavi's current contract runs out on 30 June 2014, but the deal includes extension conditions that can prolong the contract for two additional years. If Xavi plays over 50% of the games in the last two seasons of his current deal, he is automatically granted another season. The same conditions come in play for his potential 2015-16 season, when he will be 36 years old.

Next up: David Villa

 

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