This is probably the last chance our eyes will have to feast upon the beauty that is Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta at the most prestigious of international tournaments – the FIFA World Cup. He has often been compared to a ballerina skating on ice. He zooms past defenders like they were not even there and his control on the ball is magnetic. There is grit and steel in his character that is often overlooked due to his calm demeanour.
Andres Iniesta is a true magician. Lovingly called the ‘pale ghost’ by Barcelona fans because of the way he just floats through space -- like a shadow -- his body swaying from one side to another, enticing defenders much in the same way a snake charmer keeps the attention of a serpent, Iniesta is the best midfielder of his generation.
The ability with which he just drags a flock of defenders towards him and then proceeds to escape pressure from all sides and angles is mesmerizing to say the least.
While others look to get away from pressure, Iniesta revels in it. He invites defenders to come closer.
“I wasn’t trying to get away from them, I wanted to draw them all to me and then use the space that created for someone else to take advantage,” Iniesta had explained after a match against Czech Republic. Typical.
There is a collage, an assortment of pictures that shows how Iniesta attracts opponents during the game. See Here.
It’s not just his dribbling and control either. Back in 2005, Frank Rijkaard, the coach who preceded Pep Guardiola in Barcelona, said the following about Iniesta at a press conference, prior to a match against Albacete: "He plays like he's handing out sweets. He controls, passes, makes himself available, always appears where he's needed".
That last bit is important. He helps out where he is ‘needed’. The true definition of a team player.
Along with midfield partner Xavi Hernandez, he has marked an era in Spanish football and has done so playing the game his way. His dancing feet all too often putting opponents in a carousel.
Iniesta won his country the World Cup back in 2010 and later admitted that he was playing with depression. His mind and his body giving up during a crunch tournament where Spain simply could not have done without his contribution. He scored the World Cup winning goal in the final against the Dutch and had elevated to another level with his focus and determination during the final 30 minutes of the match in South Africa.
This time, Spain took a blow when coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked just two days prior to the start of the showpiece event in Russia. The new coach Fernando Hierro had said that things will stay the same. One man who he should definitely turn to is Don Andres. He never fails to inspire. As Spain look to win their second World Cup trophy, they will be looking at the one who won them their first.
No matter how it all ends, Iniesta will leave as a hero and we can only hope that we get to witness the magic one last time. Illuminate us like the illusionist you are Don Andres Iniesta.