squad | 2016-06-08
Iniesta: 'What we’ve done over the last 10-12 years is unthinkable'
The Barça captain spoke with El Períodico about the past season and the upcoming Euros
FC Barcelona’s captain, Andrés Iniesta, sat down with El Periodico to talk about the recently completed season and his feelings regarding the upcoming European tournament. You can read the original interview, in Spanish, here.
Great end to the season. You finished it in good form.
The feeling is very good, because it’s the one you’re left with after the last game, the final, but I’ve felt this was all through the season. I’ve felt very good, I’ve played as I wanted, and I’ve enjoyed being a football player a lot, beyond the numbers. The satisfaction of going out on the pitch and being pleased with what you’re doing. At the same time, this is a feeling that, looking towards the future, makes me very optimistic about next season.
Do you note that confidence, is it something you perceive, that you work on?
When I enter the pitch I already know what I’m going to find, more or less, how the football will flow. You already know how fast you are, how awake you are. During the game some things can change, but I am aware of my sensations very fast, including the day before, you start visualizing everything. It’s something that I’ve learned and noted over time and something you start controlling.
You’ve been very regular at the highest level.
Yes, that’s the perception I have. In the end, it’s an accumulation of situations, the dynamic of the team, the coach who is always aware of how we are and takes care of us. Not because of my age, because I don’t think I’m old or very tired, but in a lot of phases he has taken care of me. It’s what needs to be done in order to perform, you have to be fully fit.
In the Cup final you had some illusionist worthy moments. Even in slow motion it’s not clear what you did in some plays. Is it all just thinking? Is it instinct?
No, it’s how I am. These are my qualities, I am a footballer for things like these and with time I’ve enhanced them. I am who I am, not better or worse than others. I do a lot of things without thinking. In football there’s almost no time to think, the mind works really fast during the game, I think without thinking, you do things and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. The final required that the players with more experience took that responsibility, because we were in a bad situation.
Sometimes it looks as if you don’t run and you run more than the rest…
The sensation on the pitch is different from what you can perceive from the outside. When you watch it, the movements aren’t aggressive, they’re natural and maybe that fools you. But on the pitch you have to move very quickly. Do I watch my games afterwards? Yes, of course.
There’s a play next to the touchline, when it looks like you have no way out, you’re boxed in and surrounded and you easily find a way out…
Well, when I do that, I examine what is happening. Even though I’m looking at the ball, I see if the others move. In that situation, for example, I go to the touchline, step on the ball and the Sevilla player thinks that I’m going to go that way and I sense that he will do that movement and I go the other way. Each of us has his potential. But, in the end, the one who dominates the ball is the one in control.
There was a moment when people said that you weren’t good for this Barça…
I don’t know how many people thought that, but I did hear that, especially last season. All changes require adaptation time. I know that if I feel good I will play. I can do 10 or 12 km, but I feel that if I am myself I can play in any system and in any team. Of course, here we’re used to seeing everything as being negative when things don’t work.
In recent years important and valuable people for the team and for you have left: Puyol, Valdés, Xavi… Now you’re the team’s first captain.
It’s the law of life. In some years I will leave and the others will remain. Being Barça’s captain makes me feel very good, more responsible about everything, not just myself, but what I represent and who, starting with my teammates. And that, along with winning and continuing to win, add value. If we wouldn’t have won, Iniesta would be a disaster of a captain who doesn’t help, doesn’t have the required character, something that I don’t know exactly what it involves. I suppose that’s how it goes. Even in 200 years it will still be this way. Out of 10 people there’s only 2 or 3 who can look beyond the current moment, without focusing on the result, on the day to day, and make a more global evaluation.
Do you feel like you’re a better player now?
I don’t feel better, but I do feel somewhat different. I don’t know if I should say more complete. Maybe now I have the job of helping more, like more of a midfielder, with more influence on the game and in helping bring out the ball from the back and maybe that conditions me in terms of getting up the pitch. But I haven’t lost the essence that has always characterized my game, my label. If I just had this part and had lost the other one, without my 1v1s, without those plays, I wouldn’t feel as accomplished as I do now. Something would be missing.
You’ll never lose that.
Well, maybe when I’m 35-36, I don’t know (laughs). What makes me happy is knowing that I’m still myself, not that a system or a way of playing change me. I have other aspects, but I’m still me.
When you look at your achievements, don’t you get dizzy? If someone had told what you’d win 10 years ago…
I don’t know how to label it. I don’t know what people perceive, I can’t measure their pride, I know their happiness because I see it in the celebrations. But something like this won’t ever happen again. I hope it does, but what we’ve done over the last 10-12 years is unthinkable, incalculable, no team in the world has done it. What makes you feel powerless are the moments when it seems like it’s not valued enough. No one has won two trebles in six years. Sometimes I’m at home, relaxed and I think: “It’s incredible, this isn’t real, this doesn’t exist.”
It’s easy to take your foot of the pedal, to think you’ve won everything already…
The thing is we’ve won during a long period of time and that isn’t easy in sport. In the end what moves you is the passion for football, that’s what keeps you going, keeps you wanting the best for your club, for your family, for yourself. For me, this is the best era in the world. It’s a privilege and a reason of great pride to have landed in this era and in this moment in life, in this team, with these players… There’s nothing better than this. Doing your job and being recognized in the whole world, people coming up to you and saying “thank you for what you’re doing”, that’s priceless. It’s not winning, like they’re saying now: what do you prefer, the Champions League or the double? The concept isn’t this or that or what has more value. It’s not about picking one of those. It’s the fact that Barça has won six out of the last 8 leagues. You say that and no one can say anything else, they can’t compare it with anything because it’s brutal. I wonder how come there are some who don’t understand this. Regardless of the team they support. If it had been Madrid who did this, it would bother us, but we would have to recognize it and accept it. You look at it and no matter what team would have done it it’s insane.
And now the Euros. Is it easy to change the chip? Are you not saturated?
We’re used to it. We had some vacation days and we cleared out heads. And it’s also good because it’s a different team, a different dynamic and environment. And we have a nice challenge in front of us.
Just like Barça’s cycle is exceptional, the national team has also made history. And you can do something no one has done before: win three Euros in a row.
What we’ve lived at Barça has had a great influence on winning what we’ve won with the national team. And it started with Luis Aragonés changing that football mentality and the profile of the players. I still think that we have a very good team and that if we do things well we’re not inferior to anyone and we’re going to be there, fighting for the trophy. If we do things like we did them at the World Cup, where it seemed like we had won before playing, it doesn’t matter what team you have.
Does the memory of Brazil weigh on you?
It doesn’t weigh on us, but it’s present. Brazil did us well because it taught us to be more calm, in the sense that you have to go step by step. It’s a good warning and we have that in mind. It helps you not to believe anything, to know that everything is difficult. The group we have is very strong, with three teams of a similar level. If you’re not at 100% in everything the rival will surely beat you.
Do you have any special goal saved for this?
You never know. Destiny will decide. But it doesn’t matter who scores. The goals belong to everyone.