Xavi is one of the greatest midfielders to ever kick a football. He won four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles with Barcelona, as well as a World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.
He was a central part of both those teams, each regarded amongst the finest in football history, and in all honesty, neither have been the same since he left.
Now retired after winding down his career in the Middle East, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the best quotes about the midfield maestro…
“He is the best player in the history of Spanish football.” – Lionel Messi
“I have run out of compliments for him. There is no-one who can compare to what he represents as a person and a player. His statistics, the years, the feelings he conjures up, his way of doing things are beyond words. He is a unique player, unrepeatable and he has been fundamental to the club and Spain. It is a true pleasure and privilege to have played alongside him for my entire career.” – Andres Iniesta
“There will never be a player like Xavi. I was fortunate to play with him and I learned something new every day. He’s a player that made the difficult look easy, simplifying everything.” – Santi Cazorla
If we’re talking about Xavi, we’re talking about a legend in world football, a genuine legend. From the very first game to the very last game he has been the most decisive player at Barcelona, the player who has done more for Barcelona than anyone else, the player who has lifted more trophies than anyone else, ever. That’s Xavi Hernández. There will be a Before Xavi and an After Xavi.” – Hristo Stoichkov
“I hope future players learn from him in the way that I learned from his love for the game. There wasn’t a single day went by when I didn’t see him enjoy it. There would be a friendly and he would play. When he was injured, he would play, or he would do everything to be back soon. He is the most amateur player I know, and at the same time the most professional player too, such is his love for football.” – Pep Guardiola
“Xavi is unique; there won’t be another player like him. The style of Barcelona and the national team was forged through him.” – Ander Herrera
“One of the big mistakes people make is to talk about who can be the next Xavi, to keep looking for him. We waste time constantly looking for the replacement for Xavi? There will never be another Xavi.” – Cesc Fabregas
“Xavi changed football. He helped us to build, or to see, a new player profile that ended up running through all levels of the national team. He killed off the myth of physicality being above all else and opened people’s eyes to the qualities of small, technical players, proving that you can attack and also defend with the ball. There are lots of players who win things, but few who lay down concepts, ideas, who change the way we think, and Xavi did that.” – Julen Lopetegui
“People ask me every year who [I’d] take out of the Barcelona team to give us a better chance of winning and every year I tell them the same: Xavi. His control and use of the ball make him their best player.” – Iker Casillas
“If Xavi has a bad day then Barcelona do not play half as well. He is the one that sets the rhythm of the game. His play allows the team to function. He’s different.” – Johan Cruyff