Andrés Iniesta: ‘I’ve squeezed out every drop, there’s nothing left’ | Sid Lowe

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As Spain’s midfielder prepares for his final World Cup he discusses how he spent his last minutes at Barcelona, the times he hit near-perfection and how football in his village shaped him

“‘An intimate moment,” he calls it. Late on a Sunday night, his last there, Andrés Iniesta sat alone in the middle of Europe’s biggest stadium, silenced now. The nets had been folded up, the lights turned out and everyone else had gone but he remained, kit on, boots and socks off to feel the grass. “It was lovely to sit there, a moment between me and the pitch where I enjoyed myself so much,” he says. “Just me saying goodbye to my home. Every corner of the Camp Nou holds a memory. It’s very powerful, brutal. It was emotional.” After 22 years, 16 in the first team, he was leaving Barcelona; leaving Spain, too.

As he sat, he thought: memories, nostalgia, back to when he arrived from Albacete in an unreliable Ford Orion. “The origins,” he says. And then, at last, he got up, collected his things and was gone. “I accepted the idea some time ago, assimilated it: I knew the end was coming.” He also says that while it “wasn’t easy to say goodbye” he “digested it well” – all the tributes, “so much affection”. Yet there was also part of him that wanted to get beyond that and back to what he knows. Because it was not the end just yet. Japan awaits, with Vissel Kobe. And before that, Russia. At 34, the man who scored the most important goal in Spanish football history, winning their only World Cup in 2010, has just days left at the highest level. Exactly how many depends on how well he and his Spain team-mates do the thing he has always done best: play football.

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Written by Sid Lowe
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