By Damien Mc Evoy
Facing criticism from disapproving neighbours about the time and effort both Jose Antonio Iniesta, a brick layer, and his wife Mari, a bar worker, invested in their son Andres in his (and his father’s) dream of becoming a professional footballer, they simply replied:
“What does it matter if you don’t get there in the end?” “What have you lost trying?” “What does it matter if you’re doing what you love and doing it with all your heart?”
Thankfully the Iniesta’s believed in and supported their son and in turn gave us one of the greatest players of his generation.
This book tells the story of a young boy who fought through homesickness, shyness and in later years, dark periods in his personal life to become the player who we know today.
Iniesta along with writers Marcos Lopez and Ramon Besa ensured this book would tell the story of how his life has unfolded as a kid who grew up with a ball under his arm in Fuentealbilla in Spain, to the footballer who has won everything in the game.
The book promised to tell the story of Iniesta in his own words and in the words of those who know him, rather than the stories you can readily read on line should you type his name into Google, and it didn’t disappoint.
The book covers Iniesta’s time at Albacete where he quickly became known as ‘the Albacete number 5’ with people coming from afar to witness the rising star.
The player who played against boys twice his size and wore shirts too big for his small frame quickly progressed to La Masia and his time and experiences at Barcelona’s famous youth academy are extensively covered where we get a unique insight into one of most successful youth set ups in world football.
The books also shows a private side to Iniesta where he struggled to deal with anxiety and depression in 2009 although he struggles to put a name on the emotions he was feeling at the time, he goes into great detail that will unfortunately strike a chord with many people in similar situations. From the outside he should be the happiest man in the world yet things were far from happy in his own mind.
The tragic loss of his best friend Daniel Jarque who died of a heart attack aged 26, while on pre season with Espanyol had a huge effect on the Spaniard and Iniesta explains how this and his ongoing issues made football far from his priority for a period in his life. Iniesta would later go on to dedicate his winning World cup final goal in 2010 to his late friend.
There are many happier issues too in the book from getting his first opportunity at Barcelona under Louis Van Gaal to being a essential part of the hugely successful period under Pep Guardiola where he won three La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies alongside his midfield partner Xavi and arguably the world’s greatest player Lionel Messi, in what some say were the best footballing side of their generation if not ever.
His adventures with his beloved national team are also highlighted where he became the man who handed Spain their very first World Cup by scoring the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, achieving every little boy’s dream.
This book gives an exclusive insight into one of the most successful footballers of his generation and the journey and sacrifices undertaken not just by him but by his entire family to get to where he is today. A man who has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions League titles but is still the same shy 12 year old boy who first walked through the gates at La Masia 20 years ago.
His private life and the dark periods away from the limelight also give us an insight away, from the cameras, to the shy family man who prefers to do his talking on the pitch.
This book will no doubt appeal to all football lovers but would also appeal to anyone who has experienced the dark issues Iniesta has gone through and will give them hope of coming through the darkness.
With Christmas approaching Andres Iniesta – The Artist: Being Iniesta would make the perfect gift.