squad | 2015-07-29
Iniesta: I’m excited about having a perfect season, both personally and at team level
Andrés Iniesta is now the first captain of the team when we’re close to the thirteenth anniversary of his debut for the first team. His start under Van Gaal and those first seasons in which he couldn’t get any regular minutes in the team are long gone now. Iniesta was patient and in the end he has the deserved reward for it: he is a part of the club’s history. He says that “we’re not aware of the value of everything we’ve achieved,” but he gets emotional while he talks about all his experiences at FC Barcelona.
Is it strange to be the most experienced player in the squad?
One of the most experienced players, not the most, ok?
OK, the players who has been here the longest then…
It’s not strange, I think it’s nice because it means that you are still here and that’s the objective and the dream. It’s true that when you see the squad list you compare your age to the age of players getting promoted. But I’m honestly pleased. I feel better.
You’ve been very busy on this tour, taking part in various events as a representative of the team. What does being Barça’s captain mean for you?
Above all else it’s a very special responsibility of representing not only the team but many other things too: the dressing room, the image of the club… It’s very nice. Especially for people who have been here for a long time, becoming the first team’s captain is very special.
Who has been your reference point for the captaincy?
Just as everyone is different, I think that there is no exact model for being a captain, each one transmits things in a different way. I’ve had the fortune of having captains like Puyi, Xavi or our coach in his day. They all love the club like no one else, they think of the group ahead of themselves… That’s a captain, someone who is taking care of many things, not just football things.
How was the reunion with Van Gaal?
It was good. We said hello at the start and at halftime and we wished each other luck. For me he will always be an important person in my career.
Will you say hello to Mourinho too?
I suppose education is above everything, even though in some moments it was lacking.
Is it true that Iniesta suffers more with Luis Enrique’s system?
Not entirely. In the end, you have to feel good in whatever system you play in and I see myself being able to keep doing this. It is true that maybe some things have changed, but for me this change is not negative. And we have last season as an example: even though there are always all kinds of moments, with different feelings, personally it wasn’t exactly a bad season. I’m more than happy, both from an individual and a collective stand point, of what we achieved.
How do you feel before the new season?
I’m excited about having a perfect season, both personally and at a team level.
After all of these years how do you keep that excitement intact?
I have the same excitement I had when I was a child. There are always motivations, if you want to find reasons to keep going you will surely find them, both personally and collectively. I try to enjoy every moment. Sometimes things don’t work out as you want them to, but being motivated is the requirement at this club and it’s what I impose on myself.
Winning the sextuple again is a possibility. What are your memories from the first time Barça did this?
I have good memories, although at the same time they’re bitter, because I couldn’t play the European Supercup, or the Spanish Supercup and in the club World Cup I only played the semifinal and not the final. You see? If you want to find personal motivations there’s always something. And it won’t be easy. Sometimes we talk about titles like the Supercup as if you could win them without working for it and in the end it’s not even remotely like that.
Athletic will be your opponent in the Spanish Supercup. Does it hurt that you get whistled every time you play at the San Mamés and that the Atheltic fans have a specific issue with you?
It’s not painful because just as how when I get applauded it’s because they feel like they have to do it, when they whistle it‘s because they think that it’s what they have to do too. I don’t share that view, because I understand that we have different points of view on a specific incident which is the reason for the whistling, but I don’t go past that.
I suppose it’s about Amorebieta’s foul in 2010 which got him sent off, which could be compared with the foul on Neymar in the Cup final. In both cases the victim is whistled. Do you understand it?
I don’t understand it and I don’t share that view. In my case the reason is that I forced a sending off and five years later I still get whistled for that action when I don’t think that there’s any player who had a similar event and still gets whistled every year. I don’t have anything against people expressing themselves as they see fit and I have a lot of respect for Athletic and their fans, but I don’t understand it.
What do you think about the Neymar incident?
I suppose it’s different. You try to put yourself in the shoes of the person who gets that done to them, in the end there are different football concepts.
In some parts you get insulted when you speak in Catalan or are seen with the ‘senyera’. And in other circles people say that you’re not Catalan enough. How do you live with this?
Very well, I don’t get involved in things that don’t affect me. I am transparent with my feelings. I’ve said how I feel many times and I don’t see that as being incompatible with feeling one way or the other. But there are people who don’t want to understand it in every place: in Barcelona, in Albacete, in Madrid… everywhere. For that reason I don’t stop to think what people will say or not say because I speak Catalan or Castilian. The people who want to understand how I feel will understand it because the feelings are logical.
What does a Barça fan like you feel when you have already won a treble and you win it for the second time?
Right now, thinking about it, I got a chill down my spine. You feel very proud, happy and responsible, but I still think that we still haven’t realized what has happened because we’re so involved in the day to day things and everything goes by fast. It’s brutal, it’s incredible and we have the opportunity to keep doing this. This club’s last 10-15 years are a reference point in terms of playing and titles. Imagine being a part of the biggest thing to happen to your club, to your team. There’s little you can add to that.
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