Xavi hangs up his boots, aspires to coach Barca

Ex-Barcelona midfielder Xavi left his boyhood club in 2015 but hopes to return to coach his former team, with whom he won every club honour in Spain. PHOTO: REUTERS
Ex-Barcelona midfielder Xavi left his boyhood club in 2015 but hopes to return to coach his former team, with whom he won every club honour in Spain. PHOTO: REUTERS

TEHERAN • Xavi Hernandez hopes to one day become the coach of Spanish champions Barcelona, the club where he spent 17 years of his 21-year senior career.

But for now, the 39-year-old, who officially hung up his boots on Monday, indicated that he will stay in Qatar to begin his coaching career.

He is likely to remain in a highly paid role with his club Al Sadd, rather than return to Spain.

"The idea is to start as a coach in Qatar, where there is less pressure, to test myself and get some experience," he told Spain's Efe agency in Teheran just hours before Al Sadd faced Iranian side Persepolis in their last group match of the AFC Champions League on Monday.

"I eventually want to return to Europe and hopefully Barcelona but I'm excited to start as a coach, although I'm not ready yet for the top level. I need to walk before I can run but obviously my ultimate goal is to end up becoming Barcelona coach.

"Football can be played in many different ways but I've always been a huge fan of Barcelona's approach.

"The way in which they control the game and keep the ball is the style I've grown up with and it is the style I'll use when I'm a coach."

Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira predicted that Xavi will become a great manager in future, adding it was beautiful to work with "one of the best players in the world".

Xavi helped Spain win the World Cup in 2010 and also four Champions League and eight LaLiga titles with Barcelona. But he ended his career on a low key when Al Sadd were beaten 2-0 by Persepolis.

Several home fans brandished banners reading "Adios Xavi" to show their appreciation of the player who with Andres Iniesta formed the backbone of one of Barcelona's greatest ever sides.

Xavi was also honoured by the Persepolis management who presented him with a jersey featuring the No. 6 he has worn in his career.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2019, with the headline 'Xavi hangs up his boots, aspires to coach Barca'. Print Edition | Subscribe