If you had been asked which Spanish player was going to be voted player of the tournament before Euro 2008 started Vlade Divac Jersey , can you honestly say you would have said Xavi Hernandez? If the answer is yes, then I hope you had a good bet on it because the odds must have been tremendous.
And yet, by the end of the tournament everybody could see what Barcelona fans had known for years ? Xavi Hernandez is a playmaker supreme.
Born in Terrassa in January, 1980, Xavi is another of those priceless players who have come all the way through the ranks at Barcelona. For all the attention that ?big signings inevitably draw Tyler Ennis Jersey , players like Xavi act as a lifeblood to Bar?a ? linking the supporters with the players in a very special way. Fans like nothing more than a footballer with whom they can completely identify ? and Xavi fits that bill totally.
Although his grandfather had played successfully for local rivals Espanyol in the 1960s, it was Bar?a who snapped up the promising 11 year old Xavi Hernandez. Earmarked for stardom right from the beginning, he was carefully nurtured through the youth ranks. After a successful spell in the B side, Xavi made his debut in 1998 in the Spanish Super Cup game against Mallorca ? even scoring ? and the following season Louis Van Gaal trusted the player enough to start him in 17 league games.
Similarly to Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal, Xavi s big idol was the midfielder ? and current manager ? Pepe Guardiola Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk Jersey , and it was his injury and subsequent transfer that enabled Xavi to make the playmaker s role his own. Such was his importance to the team that he made his 300th appearance before he was 25 years old. He now has more than 430 first team games to his name.
Internationally, Xavi was a part of the Spanish team which won the FIFA World Under 20 Championships in 1999, and then he won a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics the following year. Since his first senior international appearance against the Netherlands in 2000, Xavi has been a permanent member of the national team. Alongside Barcelona team mate Andr?s Iniesta, the two players bemused supporters in England ? wondering how on earth Spain could not include Fabregas in the starting eleven. The two Barcelona players Shaquille O'Neal Jersey , however, demonstrate an almost telepathic awareness of each other arising from hours spent on the training ground and in matches together.
Xavi is one of those players that managers will always admire; he protects the ball so carefully and just hates giving it away. During numerous Euro 2008 matches, the statistics showed that Xavi had more touches than any other player on the pitch and just never seemed to give the ball to the opposition. A good tackler, a superb one touch player and with a capacity to keep running for the whole game, Xavi is a classic midfield playmaker Robert Horry Jersey , capable of dropping back to cover and also of making lung bursting runs past the strikers into the penalty area. Furthermore, he s not bad at dead ball situations, either ? but in the Barcelona team there s a few others you could say that about!
Still at the peak of his form and fitness, Xavi should be an integral part of the Barcelona and Spanish midfields for many years yet.
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