Andrés Iniesta – Football Player
Full name: Andrés Iniesta Luján
Date of birth: 11 May 1984 (age 32)
Place of birth: Fuentealbilla, Spain
Height: 1.71 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in)
Playing position: Midfielder
Spouse: Anna Ortiz
Children: Valeria Iniesta Ortiz, Paolo Andrea Iniesta Ortiz
Andrés Iniesta, in full Andrés Iniesta Luján was born on May 11, 1984, in Fuentealbilla, Spain. He is a Spanish football (soccer) player who helped his country win the Euro title in 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 World Cup; it was the first time a national squad had captured three consecutive major world championships.
Andrés Iniesta joined FC Barcelona’s youth soccer academy at age 12. The quiet midfielder gradually assumed a starring role on the club, leading Barcelona to an incredible six titles in 2009.
Iniesta played for Spain at the Under-16, Under-19 and Under-21 levels before making his international debut in 2006. He helped Spain win Euro 2008, playing every game and being selected in the Team of the Tournament. Iniesta was also a key member of the victorious Spanish team at the 2010 World Cup; he scored the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands, for which he was named the Man of the Match, and was selected to the tournament’s All-Star Team. At Euro 2012, Iniesta steered Spain to their second consecutive continental crown, again being chosen as the Man of the Match of the final against Italy, and was named the Player of the Tournament.
Iniesta won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award in 2012 and was named the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker in 2012 and 2013. He was runner-up to Lionel Messi for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or and achieved third place in 2012.
Iniesta has a sponsorship deal with American sportswear and equipment supplier, Nike, and has appeared in Nike commercials alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Wayne Rooney. Iniesta features in EA Sports’ FIFA video game series, and was the sixth-highest rated player in FIFA 15. In March 2015, Iniesta had the ninth highest social media rank in the world among sportspeople, with 24 million Facebook fans.
Childhood and Personal Life
Andrés Iniesta Luján was born on May 11, 1984, in Fuentealbilla, Albacete, Spain. He comes from Fuentealbilla, a small village in the province of Albacete, Castile–La Mancha.
After joining the Albacete youth squad at age 10, he caught the attention of FC Barcelona management at a tournament, and entered the club’s prestigious La Masia academy at age 12.
He captained the Barcelona Under-15 team to victory in the Nike Premier Cup of 1999, scoring the winning goal in the last minute of the final, and was named player of the tournament.
Iniesta enjoyed an early taste of international success with the junior national team, leading Spain to victories at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in 2001 and the Under-19 Championship the following year.
Iniesta is married to Anna Ortiz; the couple began dating in 2008 and wed on 8 July 2012. They have a daughter, Valeria, a son Paolo Andrea, and their third child, Andrés Jr.
Iniesta is a Catholic.
Iniesta made his debut for FC Barcelona’s first squad in a Champions League match in October 2002. He helped Barcelona win the league title in his first season as a regular in 2004-05, but truly emerged as a vital contributor when he stepped in for injured midfielder Xavi Hernández and sparked Barcelona to a La Liga and Champions League double the following year.
In the 2004–05 season, Iniesta featured in 37 out of 38 league games—more than any other player—although 25 of these were substitute appearances. He scored twice as Barcelona won La Liga. An injury to Xavi at the start of the 2005–06 season allowed Iniesta more regular starts in the centre of midfield, and he continued to improve and develop.
With the departure of Ludovic Giuly ahead of the 2007–08 campaign, Iniesta was able to switch his number 24 shirt for his preferred number 8.
A natural midfielder with superb passing and dribbling abilities, Iniesta proved versatile enough to lead the offense from a forward role. Although his all-around talents were praised by teammates and opponents alike, the diminutive playmaker tended to recede in the background as stars such as Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o stole the spotlight for Barcelona.
At the start of the 2008–09 season, in September 2008, Iniesta was elected the fourth-choice captain behind, in order of preference, Carles Puyol, Xavi and Víctor Valdés; all four were products of the Barcelona youth system.
Iniesta received plaudits for his performances that season; Don Balón rated him as the league’s most consistent performer. Later that year, he placed fifth for the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year award, with 134 votes, and fourth for the prestigious Ballon d’Or, receiving 149 points. Barcelona extended his contract by one year, until 2015, and raised his buy-out clause to €200 million.
Barcelona won a second successive league title in the 2009–10 season, securing a record 99 points.
Despite his quiet nature, Iniesta’s brilliant play made him impossible to overlook for long. He starred at the 2008 European Championship, earning a spot on the Team of the Tournament after Spain topped Germany in the final. Eleven months later, he netted a last-minute goal vs. Chelsea in the Champions League semifinals, one of the highlights of a year in which Barcelona won a remarkable six trophies.
The pinnacle of Iniesta’s career came during the 2010 FIFA World Cup final vs. Holland, when he knocked home a goal in extra time to give Spain its first World Cup championship. At the end of the year, he finished second to teammate Messi for soccer’s biggest individual prize, the Ballon d’Or.
Spain made history as the first team to win three successive major international tournaments with its Euro 2012 victory, and Iniesta was named Player of the Tournament. Later that summer, he beat out two of soccer’s most renowned scorers, Messi and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo, to win the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.
Iniesta signed a new contract with Barcelona in December 2013, keeping him at the club until 2018. As vice-captain, he regularly captained Barça throughout the club’s second treble-winning campaign of the 2014–15 season. Iniesta scored three times during the team’s Copa del Rey campaign, and was man of the match in the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final, having assisted Ivan Rakitić’s opening goal in the 3–1 defeat of Italian champions Juventus at Berlin’s Olympiastadion.
During the first Clásico of the 2015–16 season, on 21 November, Iniesta became only the third Barcelona player, after Diego Maradona in 1983 and Ronaldinho in 2005, to receive applause from Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Iniesta burst on to the international scene in 2001, helping Spain win the UEFA European Under-16 Championship. After representing his country at the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Championship held in Trinidad and Tobago, he was in the squad that claimed the UEFA European Under-19 Championship the following year.
At the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, Iniesta was named in the Team of the Tournament and awarded the Silver Ball for the second best player in the competition, as Spain finished runner-up to host nation Brazil.
Iniesta originally started as a defensive midfielder, but his balance, ball control and agility allied with his skill on the ball saw him make progress as an attacking midfielder. Beyond his raw talent that was spotted at a young age by Barcelona’s scouts, it was his great versatility, work ethic and inventiveness that allowed him to stake a claim on a first-team place at the age of 18.
He is widely regarded as one of the most respected and best midfielders of all time.
- La Liga: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16
- Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16
- Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016
- UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15
- UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015
- FIFA World Cup: 2010
- UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
- UEFA European Under-19 Championship: 2002
- UEFA European Under-17 Championship: 2001
- FIFA Confederations Cup: Runner-up 2013
- FIFA Ballon d’Or: 2nd place 2010, 4th Place 2011, 3rd Place 2012
- FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2010
- 2010 FIFA World Cup Final: Man of the Match
- FIFA Confederations Cup Silver Ball: 2013
- FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball: 2015
- UEFA Best Player in Europe Award: 2012
- UEFA Euro Player of the Tournament: 2012
- UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2008, 2012
- UEFA Euro All-time XI (published 2016)
- UEFA Euro 2012 Final: Man of the Match
- UEFA Champions League Team of the Season: 2014–15, 2015–16
- 2015 UEFA Champions League Final: Man of the Match
- La Liga Spanish Player of the Year: 2009
- La Liga Best Attacking Midfielder: 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
- La Liga di Stéfano Trophy: 2nd best player in 2008–09, 3rd in 2011–12
- La Liga Team of the Season: 2015–16
- FIFA FIFPro World XI: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016
- UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year (published 2015)
- ESM Team of the Year: 2010–11
- Marca Legend Award: 2011
- IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker: 2012, 2013
- Golden Foot: 2014
- Onze de Bronze: 2009
- Onze d’Argent: 2011
- France Football World XI: 2015
- Prince of Asturias Awards: 2010
- Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit: 2011