EDUARDO J. CASTELAO
Saturday, July 11, 2020 - 12:36
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What are you doing here?
This phrase, said by way of greeting, was said by Andrés Iniesta (Fuentealbilla, Albacete, 1984) at the end of July 2016 during a round of mini interviews after the presentation of one of his wines in the town where he was born. The recipients, two journalists from a sports newspaper, very close to Andrés after many years with the team, did not know very well what to answer. The question was dry, direct.
What are you doing here?
The explanation for that crude reception had to be sought a few weeks before, during the concentration of Spain on the Ile de Ré , a wonderful enclave between Bordeaux and Nantes, a paradise in the middle of the sea, for the European Championship in France. Because of a misunderstanding, some photographs that were for one medium appeared first in another and ... And Andrés got angry, and picked up the phone, in his room at Relais Thalasso Île de Ré-Hôtel Atalante, looking out to sea, to ask him Explanations to the then head of the team's press, Paloma Antoranz, and to the people of her own communication team, who tried to clear up the problem until well into the morning, cool indeed.
What are you doing here?
Observed from afar, then, Iniesta can seem an immaculate being, without ups and downs, without excessive euphoria or great sadness. No anger. But no. Andrés is very angry when he plays. Another thing is that his exquisite education takes him away from the vehemence, from the thick words, from the fuss and even from the public demonstrations. "With the passage of time, I have been selecting more people who I want next to me," he explained in a recent interview with this newspaper.
Joys. And sadness. In the months prior to the World Cup he gave us, which marks 10 years this Saturday , Andrés had the worst stage of his life. A deep depression, mixing constant injuries with the embers of a death, that of his close friend Dani Jarque a year earlier, of which he hardly began to speak openly many years later. "Today I know I had nothing to hide, but at that time it was not easy for me to find the way out of all that."
Today, Iniesta attends EL MUNDO to remember the first round anniversary of the night of all time for Spanish football. The talk, as always since 2016, is leisurely. And deep. Pretty deep.A curiosity. Could I have cut back? Could he have done anything other than shoot on goal on that play in the 116th minute of the final? [He doesn't quite know what to say, he seems to have heard a martian. And surely you are right. He finally reacts] No, no! Cut there? Not! I think I did the right thing, what I had to do. Imagine I do something else and it goes wrong! What is the first memory that comes to mind when talking about the World Cup? And it's not worth the goal. Gee, you make it difficult! I am left with a specific moment. It was a great moment for me to start the final. When we were in the tunnel, waiting and eager to jump into the field. That image I have very marked, it was a very long tunnel, there in the distance you could see the field, it was a bit like going down ... Phew, that image is very powerful for me. Are you still excited to remember, now yes , the goal that gave the title? Yes, yes, yes. Of course it excites me. Over time the perspective changes, but the moment to see the goal, the image, how the radio stations narrated it live ... It is inevitable to get excited, because it is also something that only happens once in a lifetime. It is tremendous. What was the key to that triumph? For me there are two keys. The first is that we had a very clear idea of soccer. With the coach in the lead, we knew that we wanted to dominate the game from the possession of the ball, control the matches from the ball, hurt the opponent and defend ourselves with that method, and also we did that as a very competitive group of players , who knew how to overcome when things went wrong. And the second is the human group that we form. Precisely in those bad times, if the group is strong, everything is easier, because what we lived from the inside doors was also very, very important, and there were many hard moments. To begin with, the defeat in the first match, yes, but then there was also a lot of tension in all the matches. The day of Honduras, which was all or nothing, the day of Chile, which until that much-discussed end was very difficult, Portugal, which took us to the extreme, Paraguay ... Many obstacles had to be overcome, keeping calm in extreme situations ...
Iniesta arrived in South Africa with few joys and left with the greatest of them. Today she remembers that path as the turning point of her life. Not from her sports life. Of their life. At that time he strengthened his relationship with Anna, today his wife, and went on to say: "The World Cup, beyond the goal, gave me life."Yes, because it was like starting again, like leaving all the previous months behind. That was for you. But, beyond you, what was that World Cup for in Spain? It served the Spanish footballer, the Spanish football, because it has been the greatest milestone we have achieved, after a long time, many generations. As a country, getting a World Cup has all the possible advantages and joys. As a country, it was not one of the best moments that we were experiencing, involved in a brutal economic crisis as we were ... But I was telling you about the Spanish footballer because, afterwards, talking to a player I have met in other leagues from around here [speaking of Japan], they have told me: «Everything you achieved in those years, to many players for being Spanish, have opened the doors of many leagues and many countries». And those things make me happy. As Spain is today, so upset, so divided, if we were to achieve another World Cup, would it be of any use? Do you think it would help coexistence? I don't know if it would help or not, but it would do us all good. Soccer is another story, soccer does not understand politics, it has nothing to do with right, left or center. Sport does not understand that. You like soccer because of what it transmits to you, what the players transmit to you ... And they are all positive things. Actually, the rest of the issues are more complicated, but I am sure that it would be good for all of us at this moment to win another World Cup. How do you see the possibility of winning another title like 2010? After that wonderful streak between 2008 and 2012, things have not been easy. We had bad performances in the last three championships and I think that now the team, with almost no one from that generation, has to make its own way. Luis Enrique is a great coach and I am sure he will form a very powerful group. But we must let them work and flee from comparisons, because what we live is difficult for us to repeat.
PS After receiving the two journalists with the dry phrase that heads the text, he smiled. They remembered what happened on the Ile de Ré and, immediately, everything returned to normal. And of course the conversation was just as friendly as ever. The anger was gone.
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