STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Zidane, Guardiola, Lopetegui pay tribute to Andres Iniesta

Iniesta announced on Friday he will be leaving Barca at the end of the season, bringing an end to a 22-year association with the club. He is expected to move to China but is yet to name his next team.

Published: 28th April 2018 12:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th April 2018 12:27 PM   |  A+A-

FC Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, right, and Lionel Messi celebrate during an award ceremony after defeating Sevilla 5-0 in the Copa del Rey final soccer match at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, April 21, 2018. | AP

By AFP

MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has paid tribute to Andres Iniesta after he said he was leaving Barcelona and believes the midfielder should have won the Ballon d´Or in 2010. 

Iniesta announced on Friday he will be leaving Barca at the end of the season, bringing an end to a 22-year association with the club. He is expected to move to China but is yet to name his next team. 

The 33-year-old has enjoyed a glittering career, winning eight La Liga and four Champions League titles, but has never claimed football's most prestigious individual award. 

Iniesta was beaten to the Ballon d´Or by Lionel Messi in 2010, despite clinching the World Cup that year with Spain, and scoring the decisive goal against Holland in the final. 

"What I'm going to say will maybe make headlines tomorrow," Zidane said with a smile on Friday. 

"I think he really deserved to win the Ballon d´Or when he won his World Cup, he had an exceptional year and he finished the World Cup by winning it, by scoring (in the final), so obviously that year he would have deserved it." 

It was the period when Iniesta was arguably at his best, as Barcelona won three consecutive league titles under Pep Guardiola, as well as the Champions League twice. 

"I could spend a lot of minutes talking about him, he's another part of the history of Barca in the last 15 or 20 years which would not be possible without him," Guardiola said. 

"I just want to say thank you because he helped me to understand the game better. 

"Just watching him do what he does on the football pitch despite the amount of tackles, the way he's a professional... I thank him so much for what he has done. 

"When he decides to retire, maybe a decade from now, he will come back into football - at Barcelona especially - and he can teach others what he's shown on the pitch."

Iniesta is expected to announce his international retirement after this summer´s World Cup, when he will be hoping to go out on a high by winning the tournament again with Spain. 

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has no doubt about Iniesta´s motivation in Russia.

"Andres is a player absolutely in the first class," Lopetegui said. 

"I would not speak of Andres in the past, I speak of him in the present. The recognition he has had at all levels of international football is not earned by chance.

"How he has won and how he has behaved in victory makes him loved in all the stadiums in Spain and abroad, and that is a treasure very few players in history can have. 

"He has maximum motivation to be at the World Cup and to finish well with his team like he did with Barca in the Copa del Rey final."

Stay up to date on all the latest Football news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp