Xavi in 2016
Xavier Hernández Creus is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Qatari club Al Sadd SC. He is known for his long spells playing for Barcelona (14 years) and internationally for Spain (133 caps).
Xavi joined La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, at age 11, and made his first-team debut against Mallorca in August 1998. In all, he played over 700 matches, a club record, and scored 85 goals. Xavi is the first player in the club's history to play 150 European and Club World Cup 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 widely considered to be one of the greatest central midfielders of all time. He is also considered by many to be the greatest Spanish player ever.
With Spain, Xavi won the FIFA World Youth Championship in 1999, and the Olympic silver medal at the 2000 Olympics. After making his senior team debut in 2000, he was capped 133 times for the Spain national team, and was an influential figure in the team's successes. He played an integral role in Spain's victory at the 2010 World Cup, as well as their wins at both Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. He was named Player of the Tournament by UEFA at Euro 2008, and was named in the UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament in 2008 and 2012. At Euro 2012, with his two assists in the final, Xavi became the first player to register assists in two separate Euro finals, having set up the only goal in the final four years earlier. He had a 91% passing success rate at the 2010 World Cup and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team. After the 2014 World Cup, Xavi announced his retirement from international football.
With Barcelona, Xavi won eight La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles. He has won 31 trophies for Barcelona and Spain, a total only surpassed by Andrés Iniesta as the most decorated 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 four years: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. Xavi has been included in the UEFA Team of the Year for five years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), and has been voted into the FIFA World XI on six occasions: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in 2012.
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