Xavier Hernández Creus (Catalan: [ˈʃaβi əɾˈnandəs ˈkɾɛws], Spanish: [ˈtʃaβj eɾˈnandeθ ˈkɾeus]; born 25 January 1980) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Qatari club Al Sadd SC. He is known for having played for the Spain national team and Barcelona.
Xavi came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, at age 11 and made his first-team debut against Mallorca in August 1998. Since then, he has played 700 matches, scored 82 goals and made more than 180 assists for over 50 players. Xavi is the first player in Barcelona's history to play 150 international matches. Highly regarded for his humble persona and team ethos, Xavi is viewed as being the embodiment of the tiki-taka passing style of play, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest central midfielders of all time. He is also considered by many to be the greatest Spanish player ever.
Xavi won the U-20 World Cup for Spain in 1999, and the Olympic Silver Medal at the 2000 Olympics. Since making his senior team debut in 2000, he has been capped 133 times for the Spain national team, and has been seen as an influential figure in the team's tremendous success. He played an integral role in Spain's victory at the 2010 World Cup, as well as their successes at both Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. He had a 91% passing success rate at the 2010 World Cup and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team. He was named Player of the Tournament by UEFA at Euro 2008. He was also named in the UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament in 2008 as well as 2012. After the 2014 World Cup, Xavi announced his retirement from international football.
With Barcelona, Xavi won eight La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles. He has won 31 trophies for Barcelona and Spain, a total only surpassed by Andrés Iniesta as the most successful Spanish player in history. He came third in the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, followed by third place for its successor award, the FIFA Ballon d'Or, in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, he was runner up to Lionel Messi for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. He has been awarded the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker award for four years: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. Xavi has been included in the UEFA Team of the Year for five years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), and has been voted into the FIFA World XI on six occasions: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. At Euro 2012, with his two assists in the final, Xavi became the first player to register assists in two separate Euro finals, having set up the lone goal in the final four years earlier. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports in 2012.
—Xavi on learning the team ethos of Barcelona while at the club's youth system, La Masia.
Born in Terrassa, Barcelona, Catalonia, Xavi is a product of FC Barcelona's La Masia youth system, which he joined at the age of 11. His father, Joaquim, was a former player for Sabadell in the first division. Xavi made his way through the youth and reserve teams and was a key member of Josep Maria Gonzalvo's Barcelona B team that won promotion to the Second Division.
Although he was initially inspired by compatriot playmaker Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, as a child Xavi also watched a lot of English football, and held midfielders John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne and Matt Le Tissier in high regard, as well as high praise especially for Paul Scholes.
Xavi's progression through the teams earned him a first-team appearance in a Copa Catalunya match against Lleida on 5 May 1998 and he scored his first goal on 18 August 1998 in the Super Cup final against Mallorca. His debut in La Liga came against Valencia on 3 October 1998 in a 3–1 victory for Barcelona. Initially featuring intermittently both for the reserve and senior teams, Xavi scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory over Real Valladolid when Barcelona were in tenth position in the league. Sustained impressive performance meant that he became a key member of Louis van Gaal's title-winning team. Xavi finished his debut season with 26 matches played and winning the Spanish league. He also was named 1999 La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year. Xavi became Barcelona's principal playmaker after an injury to Pep Guardiola in the 1999–2000 season.
In these years, Barcelona was on the verge of bankruptcy and struggling to keep its place in La Liga's elite. Playing in the midfield, but with more defensive role, Xavi made 20 assists and scored 7 goals in those two seasons. On 16 March 2002, he scored his first goal in El Clásico against Real Madrid.
Xavi was named the vice-captain in the 2004–05 season, in which he helped Barcelona win La Liga and the 2004 Supercopa de España. He was named La Liga Spanish Player of the Year in 2005.
In the 2005–06 season, Xavi tore the ligaments in his left knee in training; he was out of action for four months, missing a part of the season, but returned in April and was on the substitutes bench for Barcelona's win in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final against Arsenal. He also won La Liga and the Supercopa de España again.
—Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, September 2008.
After being named Player of the Tournament at Euro 2008, Xavi spoke to Bayern Munich about a transfer, but newly appointed Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola convinced him that he was too important to the club to be allowed to leave.
He was a main part of Barcelona's treble and scored the fourth goal in the 4–1 win in the 2009 Copa del Rey Final against Athletic Bilbao, with a free kick. In La Liga, among many games, one of the most significant is the 6–2 Clásico victory over Real Madrid on 2 May; he assisted four out of six goals (once to Carles Puyol, once to Thierry Henry and twice to Lionel Messi).
Xavi helped Barcelona win the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final 2–0 against Manchester United, assisting the second goal by crossing to Messi for his header. Prior to the match, Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson heaped praise on the much lauded central midfield combination of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, stating, "I don't think Xavi and Iniesta have ever given the ball away in their lives. They get you on that carousel and they can leave you dizzy." Xavi was voted "UEFA Champions League best midfielder" for his contribution during Barcelona's victorious 2008–09 Champions League campaign.
Xavi was La Liga's highest assisting player with 20 assists. He was also the highest assisting player in the Champions League with seven assists. Xavi earned 29 assists overall that season. Xavi was under contract to Barça until 2014 after extending his contract during the 2008–09 season. The new contract made him one of the club's biggest earners, with a salary of €7.5 million a year.
During the 2009–10 season, journalists increasingly noted Xavi's contribution to the Barcelona team. For example:
"Quite simply the best midfielder of modern football. It could even be argued that Xavi and Matthäus are the two best in this position in history. World class for several years now, it is the past three seasons in particular where the 30-year-old has been untouchable. Xavi’s passing is up there with Michel Platini, he creates countless goals with genius through balls while virtually never relinquishing possession."
In the 2009–10 season, Xavi again topped the assists table and provided both the assists in Barcelona's 2–0 victory against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. He was acclaimed the second-best player of Barcelona in a season-long voting as Barcelona won the Liga title with a record 99 points. On 3 June 2010, Madrid-based newspaper Marca awarded Xavi third place in the annual Trofeo Alfredo di Stéfano award for the best player in La Liga, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
—Xavi speaking in 2011 about tiki-taka style of play introduced to the club by Dutch legend Johan Cruyff.
On 9 June 2010, Xavi signed a new four-year contract with the club, which may be automatically renewed up to 30 June 2016 based on number of games played. On 29 November, he scored his third goal against arch-rivals Real Madrid in a 5–0 home win. On 18 December, he scored another goal against Espanyol in a 1–5 win. In the Champions League, Xavi scored a valuable goal against Arsenal during a home match in the UEFA Champions League that saw Barcelona progress to the quarter-finals with an assist by teammate David Villa.
Xavi was one of the three finalists for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or, alongside Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta. He finished third on the vote, behind Messi and Iniesta. He narrowly defeated Messi to win Player of the Year designation from World Soccer magazine.
On 2 January 2011, in a league match against Levante, Xavi made his 549th appearance for the club in all competitions, matching the record held by Migueli. Following this match, Xavi became the player with the most appearances for Barcelona of all time. On 28 May, Xavi was imperious in the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium in London as Barcelona defeated Manchester United in the showpiece for the second time in three seasons, winning 3–1.
Xavi began the 2011–12 season in fine goalscoring form and seemed to grow in his influence of the team despite the long anticipated return of Cesc Fàbregas and the promotion of Thiago to create added competition for places in Barça's attacking midfield positions.
On 18 December, in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup Final in Yokohama, Barcelona won 4–0 against Brazilian side Santos as Xavi scored a goal and made an assist to Lionel Messi. After the ball was slightly behind him, Xavi brought the ball down with a cocked leg, effectively using his ankle to control it, before slipping a pass through to Messi, who scored the first goal.
Xavi scored the winning goal in the Group H game against Milan, a vital match for Barcelona's progression in the UEFA Champions League. In total, Xavi gave the best goalscoring return of his career in 2011–12 season with ten Liga goals, two in the Copa del Rey – which Barcelona won – and one in the FIFA Club World Cup final success.
On 18 December 2012, Barcelona renewed Xavi’s contract, extending it until 30 June 2016. Xavi scored a goal against Real Madrid in a 3–2 win for Barcelona. Xavi was named into the FIFA World XI, along with teammates Dani Alves, Andrés Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Barcelona had virtually secured their La Liga title by the start of 2013, eventually equalling Real Madrid's 100-point record of the previous season.
On 16 January 2014, Xavi made his 700th appearance for the first team against Getafe in the Copa del Rey. For the first time in five years, Barcelona ended the season without a major trophy; they were defeated in the Copa del Rey final by Real Madrid with Gareth Bale scoring a late winner, and lost the league in the last game to Atlético Madrid.
In June 2014, it was announced that Xavi would be leaving the club. On 22 July, however, after talks with newly appointed manager and former teammate Luis Enrique, Xavi decided to stay at Camp Nou for one more season. He was also appointed as club captain. On 25 April 2015, Xavi made his 500th La Liga appearance, becoming the eighth player in history to do so. On 4 June, a farewell tribute was held at Barcelona for Xavi with players, managers, friends and family paying tribute to him.
On 6 June 2015, Xavi appeared as a 78th-minute substitute for Andrés Iniesta to make his final appearance for Barcelona during the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final, as the club won its fifth European Cup/Champions League by beating Juventus at Berlin's Olympiastadion. Xavi, as club captain, lifted the trophy. This made Barcelona the first club in history to win the treble of domestic league, domestic cup and European Cup twice. Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Gerard Piqué, Pedro, Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves are the only players to have been a part of both treble-winning teams.
On 21 May 2015, Xavi announced that he would join Qatari club Al Sadd at the end of the 2014–15 season on a three-year contract. According to his agent, the deal would involve him becoming an ambassador for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country, and also start his coaching qualifications. He made his debut for Al-Sadd in a 4–0 win over Mesaimeer on 13 September 2015, assisting in the team's first goal. In the following match, he scored his first goal for the club in a 2–2 draw with Umm Salal. Al Sadd ended the league campaign in third position putting them in a place for next season AFC Champions League. Xavi scored three goals during the season. In the Champions League, Al Sadd were knocked out from the qualifying rounds by Emirati side Al Jazira on penalties; Xavi missed his spot kick.
Xavi won his first trophy with Al Sadd following a 2–1 victory over El Jaish in the Qatar Cup final on 29 April 2017. On 10 November 2017, Xavi said that he would retire when his contract with Al Sadd expired at the end of the 2017–18 season, and would later pursue a coaching career. However, he postponed these plans and signed a two-year contract extension on 24 May 2018.
Xavi played for Spain at the 2000 Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2004, 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.
UEFA Euro 2008
Xavi was named Euro 2008's player of the tournament after Spain defeated Germany 1–0 in the final. Xavi was dominant in midfield, where his metronomic passing and reading of the game was pivotal to Spain's success, in addition to making tackles, shaping attacks and driving Spain to their first silverware since the 1964 European Championship. Andy Roxburgh, head of UEFA's Technical Committee, said, "We have chosen Xavi because he epitomizes the Spanish style of play. He was influential in the whole possession, passing and penetrating kind of game that Spain played."
Xavi scored the first goal of Spain in the semi-final against Russia, which Spain won 0–3. In the final, he made a pass, rolled towards the German area, from which Fernando Torres scored the winning goal.
2010 World Cup
Xavi was named in Spain's squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with Spain eventually winning their first World Cup. He provided the most number of accurate passes, 599 with a passing success rate of 91%, and he crossed the ball inside the 18-yard box more than any other player performing in the tournament. For example, in the final he made 57 accurate forward half passes. Xavi also covered a lot of distance on the pitch – 80.20 kilometres throughout the competitions, which average at approximately 11.5 kilometres per game. In the final, he covered a distance of almost 15 kilometres.
Xavi is the beating heart of this Spanish team, the man dictating the tiki-taka pulse of pass after pass. He may be just 5ft 7in with a curiously hunched gait but no player more influences the way his whole team plays. He doesn't score, doesn't really tackle: he just passes and passes with a precision and wit unmatched by any of his peers.— Duncan White of The Telegraph on Xavi at the 2010 World Cup.
During the round of 16 match against Portugal, Xavi provided a backheel pass in the 63rd minute to David Villa. Although Villa had his shot with his left foot blocked by goalkeeper Eduardo, he then put in the rebound with his right foot for the winning goal. Xavi crossed a corner out to the edge of the six-yard box in the semi-finals against Germany, where Carles Puyol made a header into the top-right corner.
UEFA Euro 2012
Xavi played for Spain at Euro 2012 which Spain won by defeating Italy 4–0 in the final. Xavi attempted 136 passes (127 completed, 94% success rate) during Spain's 4–0 victory in the group stage match against the Republic of Ireland, more than any other player in a European Championship match. The previous record had been set by Ronald Koeman at 117 in a Euro 1992 match between the Netherlands and Denmark. Xavi and Andrés Iniesta made 229 passes in this match, more than the combined Irish 11 managed. "Pum, pum, pum, pum" was how Xavi described the rhythmic sound of the ball constantly moving between himself and his midfield partner.
With Xavi providing two assists in the final, one for Jordi Alba, and another one for Fernando Torres, he became the first player to register assists in two European Championship finals. Spain's UEFA Euro 2012 victory made Xavi the most successful player in Spanish football history, a feat that he previously shared with Carles Puyol, who missed the entire tournament.
On 5 August 2014, following the 2014 World Cup where Spain were eliminated at the group stage, Xavi announced his retirement from international football, having made 133 appearances in a 14-year period. Spain's World Cup-winning manager Vicente del Bosque paid tribute, stating that Xavi was "a key part of the team's style of play" and "he was more important to us than even the manager", also adding, "We will miss him both on and off the pitch. He is a player who we hold in great esteem both personally and as a player. He is and always will be a person and a player who is greatly valued by the federation, the coaching staff and by myself."
Style of play
Xavi on his own style of play, November 2014.
The claim that Xavi is one of the best central midfielders of all-time relies largely on his ability to find and exploit space as a playmaker. As he said, "That's what I do: look for spaces. All day. I'm always looking." Finding space, he would appear for a teammate to receive and then move the ball on, with his coach Pep Guardiola putting it. "I get the ball, I give the ball, I get the ball, I give the ball." Xavi’s signature move when in possession is performing a 360 degree turn, known as la pelopina, that allowed him to move away from the opposing player, giving him space and time to think about his next pass.
Xavi's vision, pinpoint accurate passing and world-class ball control allowed him to dictate the flow of play while rarely relinquishing possession, most notably displayed during Spain's 2010 World Cup victory where he had a 91% passing success rate for the tournament. His ability to control some matches has earned him the sobriquet, "The Puppet Master". A style introduced to the club by former coach Johan Cruyff, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell believed Xavi, together with Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, perfected the club's tiki-taka style of play.
Xavi has a sponsorship deal with German sportswear and equipment supplier Adidas and has appeared in Adidas commercials alongside Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Robin van Persie. Xavi features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series, and was the top passer in FIFA 15 with a 91 rating.
In November 2014, Xavi appeared in FIFA's "11 against Ebola" campaign with a selection of top football players from around the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Gareth Bale and Didier Drogba. Under the slogan "Together, we can beat Ebola", FIFA's campaign was done in conjunction with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and health experts, with the players holding up 11 messages to raise awareness of the disease and ways to combat it.
Since July 2013, Xavi has been married to Nuria Cunillera. Their daughter, Asia, was born on 3 January 2016.
- As of 7 October 2018.
|Barcelona B||1997–98||Segunda División B||33||2||–||–||6||0||39||2|
|1999–2000||Segunda División B||4||1||–||–||–||4||1|
|Al Sadd||2015–16||Qatar Stars League||24||3||3||0||1||0||2||0||30||3|
- Scores and results list Spain's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Xavi goal.
|1.||26 March 2005||Helmántico Stadium, Salamanca, Spain||China PR||2–0||3–0||Friendly|
|2.||6 September 2006||Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland||Northern Ireland||1–0||2–3||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|3.||11 October 2006||La Condomina Stadium, Murcia, Spain||Argentina||1–0||2–1||Friendly|
|4.||2 June 2007||Skonto Stadium, Riga, Latvia||Latvia||2–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying|
|5.||12 September 2007||Carlos Tartiere Stadium, Oviedo, Spain||Latvia||1–0||2–0|
|6.||21 November 2007||Gran Canaria Stadium, Las Palmas, Spain||Northern Ireland||1–0||1–0|
|7.||4 June 2008||El Sardinero Stadium, Santander, Spain||United States||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|8.||26 June 2008||Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria||Russia||1–0||3–0||UEFA Euro 2008|
|9.||20 August 2008||Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark||Denmark||2–0||3–0||Friendly|
|10.||29 March 2011||Darius and Girėnas Stadium, Kaunas, Lithuania||Lithuania||1–0||3–1||UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying|
|11.||6 September 2011||Las Gaunas Stadium, Logroño, Spain||Liechtenstein||3–0||6–0|
|12.||7 September 2012||Pasarón Stadium, Pontevedra, Spain||Saudi Arabia||3–0||5–0||Friendly|
|13.||11 October 2013||Iberostar Stadium, Palma, Spain||Belarus||1–0||2–1||2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying|
- La Liga: 1998–99, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15
- Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15
- Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
- UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15
- UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011
- Al Sadd
- Emir of Qatar Cup: 2017
- Qatar Crown Prince Cup: 2017
- Sheikh Jassim Cup: 2017
- FIFA World Cup: 2010
- UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
- Spain Youth
- Summer Olympics Silver Medal: 2000
- FIFA World Youth Championship: 1999
- La Liga top assist provider: 2008–09, 2009–10
- World Soccer Player of the Year: 2010
- UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament: 2008
- UEFA Best Player in Europe Award Second place: 2011
- Ballon d'Or/FIFA Ballon d'Or Third place: 2009, 2010, 2011
- FIFA World Player of the Year Third place: 2009
- UEFA Champions League top assist provider: 2008–09
- UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year: 2008–09
- IFFHS World's Best Playmaker: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
- La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year: 1999
- La Liga Spanish Player of the Year: 2005
- Trofeo Alfredo Di Stéfano: 2nd place 2010, 3rd place 2011
- La Liga Midfielder of the Year: 2009, 2010, 2011
- FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2010
- UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 2008, 2012
- FIFA FIFPro World XI: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
- FIFA FIFPro World XI 3rd team: 2014
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
- ESM Team of the Year: 2008–09, 2010–11, 2011–12
- Don Balón Team of the Decade: 2010
- FIFA Club World Cup Silver Ball: 2011
- FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball: 2009
- Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2013
- UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year (published 2015)
- Marca Legend Award: 2015
- Spanish Sportsman of the Year: 2009
- Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit: 2010
- Prince of Asturias Award for Sports: 2010 , 2012