Xavi Hernandez’s trophy-filled career has come to an end.
The veteran Spanish midfielder and Barcelona legend confirmed this morning that this past season in Qatar was his final as a player. Xavi’s Al-Sadd won the 22-game league season with 18 wins, 57 points and just one defeat.
“It’s been a privilege to play until the age of 39,” Xavi said, via Barcelona’s website. “This 2018/19 season will be my last as a player, but I hope the future offers the chance to be a coach.”
Xavi has been working as a player and youth coach since joining Al-Sadd in 2015 after winning the UEFA Champions League, and he’s expecting to become a coach full-time heading into the future.
“I like to see teams take the initiative on the field,” Xavi said. “To play attacking football, and to demonstrate the essence of what we all have loved since our infancy: possession-based football.”
Xavi finishes his career as one of the most decorated players in the history of soccer. Let’s split it up between club and country.
Born in Catalonia, Xavi joined La Masia in 1991. After rising through the ranks, he finally made his first team debut for Barcelona in a Copa Catalunya match late in the 1997-1998 season. That fall into the next season, Xavi, then just 18-years old, made his first team debut and became the breakthrough player of the season, playing under Louis Van Gaal.
Xavi went on to spend 17 seasons in Barcelona’s first team. He won La Liga eight times. He won the Copa del Rey three times, and the Spanish Super Cup another six occasions. On the European front, Xavi won the Champions League four times, the UEFA Super Cup twice and the FIFA Club World Cup twice. In Qatar, this was the first season Al-Sadd had won the title with him, making him go out a champion.
Internationally, Xavi helped Spain finally overcome its own shortcomings in midfield and led them to a four-year run with some of the most success anyone has ever seen. Xavi and Spain won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, and sandwiched in between was the 2010 World Cup victory, winning the soccer-mad nation’s first World Cup.
Xavi is one of the last few nearly one-club players, spending nearly his whole professional career at Barcelona. One will always wonder how he would have done had he come to the Premier League or to MLS later in his career. However, his time at Barcelona provided some of the most beautiful soccer people have ever seen, and his career as a player will not soon be forgotten.