“I’m convinced that if you asked the United players whether they knew that he was injured in 2009, none of them would have had the slightest idea. It’s better if he’s hundred per cent, but with the vision, technique, experience and talent that he has, even sixty of seventy per cent is enough”. – Eric Abidal
Andres has been part of the team for as long as I can remember. I watched him grow from that pale player that I did not personally believe in(because I’m clueless like that) to the player that has become the most widely loved and appreciated in the world. It is almost as if people become overwhelmed when Andres is around. Whether you’re a footballer, just a random fan sitting in the worst seat in the stadium, or a dedicated fan streaming Barcelona’s match from the other side of the world, you are immediately overwhelmed by his greatness.
I went to Barcelona to watch a Champions League match against Borussia Mönchengladbach. I was so excited to watch Lionel Messi for the very first time. A few minutes in and I realised that Leo is not the one I have my eyes on. I was fully focused on Iniesta for some reason I cannot fully understand. My first match ever in Barcelona and I’m focused on Iniesta more than the greatest player of all time? Really?
It was purely because of how he did things. Iniesta works in a dimension of his own. It does not matter what speed the world is moving at because he sets his own. He moves from point A to point B almost without displacing a single inch of grass. Every move of his is so smooth and delicate. He makes the ball brush against the ground so gently that you’d think a 3 year old just ran through, not a grown man. Iniesta has managed to create the illusion that time goes slower in his world. He managed to make people visualise the speed of the ball differently. Even though your mind knows it’s the same speed as always, there is something in you that tells you it isn’t.
When he receives a ball from far away there is this one split second where he interrupts the intensity of the pass. It’s almost as if the ball just crossed from our world to his and the atmosphere there is simply not the same. The ball reaches his thigh or foot and it freezes. The ball is now in his world and he’ll let go of it the moment he feels like it.
Iniesta effortlessly sent a flying ball all the way to the other side of the field with pinpoint accuracy. You would enjoy seeing that pass again and again. It’s a simple pass that you would see several other players pull off. But when it comes to Iniesta, it’s a matter of how he does it. There are few things that match the satisfaction of watching an Iniesta pass flow from one place to another. It calms you down if you’re a fan and it stuns you if you’re a rival.
Iniesta has been called finished more times than I could possibly count. In 2014, he was called finished. He returned in 2015 and 2016 to win it all. Before this season began, Iniesta was called finished too. Most of Iniesta’s performances this season have been a display of experience and superiority. Iniesta has grown old and his face and body are starting to show it but what happens in his mind, because of the lifelong experience on the field, cannot be underestimated.
Iniesta is the God you travel for months and climb stormy mountains for days to finally meet. You will go into his cave and you will be overwhelmed by his presence as you always were. You will appreciate his wisdom and his grace. For as long as he exists, you will climb that mountain again and again looking for more. For as long as he is around, he will provide what is exceptional and overshadow the younger attractive fellows that come in trying to reach the top.
Iniesta will be finished as a footballer when he decides that he is.