The ball goes from right foot to left foot, as if on a piece of string.
That’s all it takes for Don Andres Iniesta to be on his way.
Countless defenders were left staring in astonishment at the slither of space Iniesta had gracefully exploited to keep the ball moving.
The curtain has now fallen on his 16-season Barcelona career which gives us a perfect excuse to look back on every home kit he’s worn through the years.
The first fleeting steps of Iniesta in the iconic Barcelona colours. Note the lack of sponsor.
Iniesta played eight times but couldn’t stop Barcelona finishing sixth in La Liga, which was their worst position in 15 years.
Seriously below what a squad packed full of talent like Xavi, Frank de Boer, Carles Puyol, Marc Overmars, Juan Roman Riquelme and Patrick Kluivert was capable of.
The arrival of Frank Rijkaard and Ronaldinho saw an upturn in Barcelona’s fortunes.
Iniesta was still some way off being a first-team regular, playing 11 times in the league, but he did score his first Barcelona goal.
It was a strike David Nugent would have been proud of with Iniesta bundling home from all of one yard.
Iniesta got his hands on La Liga at the third time of asking.
He played more games than any other player during the campaign although, more often than not, he was used off the bench.
Understandable given the youngster was competing with Xavi and Deco to be Barcelona’s Creator in Chief in midfield.
Another year, another La Liga title.
He also got his hands on Ol’ Big Ears for the first time, coming on to replace Edmilson at half-time of the 2006 Champions League final against Arsenal.
The year would end on Iniesta picking up his first cap for Spain.
The nearly season.
Iniesta finished runner-up in the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and crashed out of the Copa del Rey at the semi-final.
The Spanish Super Cup was scant consolation.
Ludovic Giuly’s transfer away from the club allowed Iniesta to inherit his no.8 shirt that we’ve come to know and love.
But that’s about where the good news finished as far as his campaign was concerned.
Barcelona finished the season trophyless, marking the end of Rijkaard’s time in charge.
Let the good times roll.
Pep Guardiola arrived at the club and immediately put Iniesta at the heart of his midfield.
Barcelona won a treble with Iniesta particularly impressive in the Champions League run, as Chelsea fans might remember, not matter how much they try and block it out.
This was a Jekyll and Hyde campaign for Don Andres.
He was part of a record-winning points tally as Barcelona lifted La Liga, in addition to the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and the Spanish Super Cup.
But a thigh injury and the death of close friend Daniel Jarque combined to weigh Iniesta down. The emotion on his face upon scoring the 2010 World Cup winning goal was clear for all to see.
Iniesta was forced to upgrade his trophy cabinet once again after lifting La Liga, the Spanish Super Cup and the Champions League.
He was pipped to the Ballon d’Or by Messi, becoming arguably the best player never to win the honour in the process.
However everywhere he went in Spain he was applauded, both for his World Cup goal and the subsequent tribute to Jarque.
Can you guess what happened this season? Yep, more trophies.
This time it was the Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and Spanish Super Cup, with the Champions League and La Liga eluding Iniesta.
At the end of the season Guardiola and Barcelona went their separate ways. Iniesta couldn’t have given more to Pep’s cause.
Iniesta helped Tito Vilanova ease into life at Barcelona whilst simultaneous spoiling Jose Mourinho’s party.
Barcelona smashed through the 100-point tally to blow Mourinho’s Madrid out of the water in La Liga.
Iniesta had the best seat in the house as Lionel Messi smashed a herculean 46 league goals. FORTY-SIX LEAGUE GOALS.
A new contract was signed just in time to give Barcelona fans an early Christmas present.
Iniesta also had a new wonderkid to nurture with La Masia DNA as Neymar arrived from Santos carrying three bags and a ‘next Pele’ tag.
All in all it wasn’t a very successful campaign, aside from a Spanish Super Cup triumph.
Back to winning ways in style.
Barcelona won the league and completed a domestic double to secure yet another treble.
This might seem routine by now but what Iniesta had been a part of was simply stunning.
How do you improve on perfection? With great difficulty.
The Champions League was one step to far although the manner in which Barcelona crashed out in the quarter-final against Atletico Madrid did surprise the footballing world.
But Barcelona were once again too much for the rest of Spain to handle with Iniesta lifting La Liga and the Copa del Rey, as well as the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
Luis Enrique’s last season as Barcelona manager saw him hand La Liga back to Real Madrid.
Iniesta only played 23 games in La Liga as age and injuries started to catch up.
But you know the scoop by now. Iniesta lifted the Spanish Super Cup and Copa del Rey at the end of the campaign.
Lifting the league title as well as the Copa del Rey was a fitting way for Iniesta to see out a truly special career. Nothing we can say can do justice to the joy he brought to so many.
We’re not crying, we’ve just got something in our eyes.
Dream Team World Cup has landed!
The greatest show on Earth just got that bit more exciting.
That’s because the Dream Team World Cup game is coming ahead of this summer’s tournament.
Dream Team World Cup
- Completely free to enter
- £50m budget and 20 transfers throughout the tournament
- £175k total prizepot (for UK players only)
- PRE-REGISTER FOR DREAM TEAM WORLD CUP NOW
The game officially launches on June 1 – but you can pre-register for the game now.
If you’re an existing Dream Team customer the World Cup game now appears in the app or you can enter here, but if you’re not follow these simple steps:
- Download the Dream Team app
- Create an account
- Click on the World Cup banner below in the app and follow the pre-registration instructions
From Russia with a whole lot of love.