His talent and brilliance as a player are well known, but here are five things you might not know about Barça’s new coach: from his childhood idol and footballing pedigree to being the only player this century not named Messi or Cristiano to make the Ballon d’Or podium three years in a row.
Xavi Hernández is back in LaLiga Santander. Six years after playing his last match for his boyhood club FC Barcelona, the Catalan icon has returned as first-team coach at the Camp Nou, a position many have believed he was destined to fill throughout his career. Details of his brilliance as a player and his promising managerial career are common knowledge, but these little-known facts might not be.
His father was a footballer too
Xavi was born on January 25th 1980 into a footballing family; his father Joaquín Hernández played for a variety of teams in the 1960s and 1970s. Playing in midfield, like his son would go on to do too, Joaquín represented teams across the region of Catalonia such as Girona, Reus and Sabadell, even playing in the LaLiga Santander with the latter.
His idol at the Camp Nou: Bernd Schuster
Growing up, Xavi was of course a Barcelona fan and his favourite player was Bernd Schuster. Xavi fell in love with the German when he went to the Camp Nou for the first time to see a Gamper Trophy match, Barça’s annual curtain-raiser for each new season. He was in awe of the midfielder and later went on to play against teams coached by the German on 10 occasions, facing his Levante, Getafe, Real Madrid and Málaga side and even scoring a couple of goals along the way.
He scored on his debut for Barcelona
It now seems so long ago that many will have forgotten, but Xavi scored just 16 minutes into his debut for Barcelona’s first team. Not known for his goalscoring exploits, the then 18-year-old burst onto the scene with a goal in the Spanish Super Cup against RD Mallorca on August 18th 1998, a match which the Blaugrana went on to lose 2-1. It was the first of his 85 goals scored over 767 matches for the club.
He made the Ballon d’Or podium three years in a row
Xavi finished third in Ballon d’Or voting three years in a row: 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Catalan midfielder was recognised for his exceptional passing ability by those voting for the award, but came up just short as his teammate Lionel Messi won the prize each year. Since the turn of the century, only Xavi, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo can say they’ve been on the Ballon d’Or podium for three consecutive years, highlighting Xavi’s consistency at the time.
He’s a lottery winner!
Xavi rounded out his career in Qatar with Al Sadd after leaving Barcelona in 2015, before taking the reins in the dugout in 2019. During his time in Qatar he made headlines by winning a lottery organised by Doha Bank, picking up a prize fund of approximately €230,000.