MADRID – As the player that makes the reigning European and worldchampions tick, Spain fans are hoping Xavi Hernandez can hold offthe effects of fatigue and injury to lead La Roja to more glory inPoland and Ukraine. At 32, the outstanding man in Spain’s triumphs at Euro 2008 and the2010 World Cup has at least one major international tournament leftin him. But is he fit enough, mentally and physically, to live up to theincredibly high standard he has set himself since finally coming tothe international fore at Euro 2008, when he was named player ofthe tournament? Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque – who is having to deal with theloss of Carles Puyol to a knee injury as well as doubts over thephysical condition of David Villa – needs the Barcelona playmakeron top of his game if La Roja are to become the first nation to winthree successive major international titles. Xavi has averaged over 60 matches a year since 2008. His body is feeling the effects, with a chronic calf-muscle injuryin particular taking its toll, but the player himself insists hefeels in good health and has a good few years left in the tank. Articulated Boom Crane
“I am not thinking about the end of my career. I want to play allthe time, I can be a bit of a pain in that regard,” he saidrecently. “This year I have missed a few games due to injury but I am excitedabout the European Championship and at the prospect of carrying onplaying at international level for several more years, for as longas my body can cope.” Xavi is the orchestrator for club and country, a man who claimsthat he can only be fulfilled when he returns to the dressing roomat the end of a game if he has touched the ball at least 100 timesduring the 90 minutes. He completed 104 passes more than any other player at the 2010World Cup, and earned the nickname ‘Humphrey Bogart’ thanks toAndres Montes, the eccentric, late Spanish television commentatorwho associated his love of passing the ball to the famous misquotefrom the film Casablanca – “Play it again, Sam.” That may be tenuous, but it is an example of the affection that allof Spain has for this affable, intelligent man and wonderfulplaymaker from the town of Terrassa near Barcelona. Side Loader Garbage Truck Manufacturer
Along with fellow Catalan Puyol and Basque Xabi Alonso, he is oneof those who have helped bury the myth that Spain’s collection ofdifferent regional identities could not come together and play in aharmonious, successful national team. It is largely thanks to Xavi that the so-called ‘tiki-taka’short-passing game behind Barcelona’s success is also now drivingSpain’s dominance of the international scene. And, to Xavi, it isthe only way to play the game. “Some teams can’t or don’t pass the ball. What are you playing for?What’s the point? That’s not football. Truck Mounted Lift Manufacturer
Combine, pass, play. That’sfootball – for me, at least,” he said in an interview last year. Xavi is Barcelona’s all-time record appearance holder and goes intoEuro 2012 with 108 caps, making him Spain’s most-capped outfieldplayer. He has already won everything there is to win in a career thatbegan when Louis van Gaal blooded him in Barcelona’s first team in1998.
Domestically he has lifted six Liga titles and one Copa del Rey(ahead of next weekend’s final against Athletic Bilbao). He hasalso been part of three Champions League-winning sides, and has wonthe Club World Cup twice. His winners’ medal from the 1999 under-20 World Cup threatened tobe his only international honour until he inspired the beginning ofSpain’s golden era four years ago in Vienna.