10 Great Moments in Xavi Hernandez's Barcelona Career
Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez remains the epitome of everything the club stand for.
For almost 17 years now, Xavi has thrilled football audiences worldwide with his simple but effective brand of passing football.
Quite possibly the best midfielder of this generation, both in word and deed Xavi remains an exemplary member of the Blaugrana.
Over the course of his Barca career there have been some great moments to treasure. Let's take a look at 10 of them...
Debut for the First Team
In a strange quirk of fate, Jose Mourinho was Xavi's manager for his official Barca club debut.
Although Louis van Gaal was officially in charge, he had placed the Portuguese in the top job for the Copa Catalunya trip to Lleida.
Just 18 years of age, Xavi helped the Blaugrana to a narrow 2-1 win on 24 March 1998 in a game which also saw Tito Vilanova turn out for the visitors as a second-half substitute.
The First Goal
There can't be too many feelings better than scoring a goal and your opener in professional football must be one of the most special of the lot.
Real Valladolid were the first team that Xavi managed to register against in the final game before Christmas, on December 20, 1998.
There was no better present for the midfielder who rose high to power a header into the net.
It was decisive in winning all three points for the Catalans.
Successor to Guardiola
Pep Guardiola is looked upon as the best manager in Barcelona's history, and he wasn't too shabby as a player either!
An injury to the No. 4 during Barca's centenary season meant that someone needed to fill a very important role in the side and to that end Louis van Gaal decided that Xavi could make the step up.
It wasn't without its difficulties as a string of under par performances meant the crowd were often on Xavi's back. It almost led to a move abroad but fortunately Xavi was able to win everyone round.
He's never looked back.
Being Handed the Captaincy
For any player at any club, the chance to be handed the captain's armband is a huge honour.
At a club like Barcelona the weight of responsibility is enormous, but it's something that sits well with this Terrassa native.
Destined to lead out the club at some point in his career, Xavi had to wait until 2005 before he was handed the vice-captaincy, a year that he was also named Best Spanish Player in La Liga.
Each manager since has had no hesitation in including him in the list of club captains, and that speaks volumes for the player.
2-6 at the Bernabeu and Four Assists to Boot
One of the games that Barca fans everywhere will refer back to in years to come.
The "chorreo" or "Dos Seis" as it has become known, was one of the most complete performances of the Pep Guardiola era and certainly one of the highest scoring.
That it was at Real Madrid means it will go down in Barca folklore.
On the night the hosts had two chances to get back into the game but both times they allowed Barca to score almost immediately afterwards.
Xavi was head and shoulders above almost everyone on the pitch and four assists are evidence of just how influential he was.
Carles Puyol, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi were fortunate to be the beneficiaries of his night's work.
Decisive in Rome
Lionel Messi described it as the most satisfying goal of his career at this year's Ballon d'Or awards, per 101 Great Goals.
While Messi may have provided the finishing touch, the goal wouldn't have been possible without the vision and precision of pass of Xavi.
A lazy clearance fell to Xavi midway into the United half and he was allowed time and space to bring the ball towards the edge of the box.
Despite five defenders being in his area of the pitch none were within five yards of him. No attempt is made at closing him down and the diminutive midfielder didn't need asking twice.
The accuracy of the cross is breathtaking. Watch it again in the video above. Outstanding.
The Manita Clasico
Just over four years ago, Barcelona inflicted the first ever defeat by five goals that Jose Mourinho had experienced in his career.
It was against that backdrop that we saw one of the best ever performances in an "El Clasico," perhaps in club football generally.
Xavi started the rout with a fortuitous goal from Andres Iniesta's pass and then set about writing his name all over this match with a pass-and-move performance of undeniable quality.
If the win against Real Madrid was one of Xavi's finest moments domestically, then the 2011 Champions League win at Wembley against Manchester United must rank as the best on the European stage.
The Red Devils were confident of avenging their defeat at Barca's hands two years before, but they were again no match for the Blaugrana.
Xavi was, once again, imperious in the middle of the park with Phil McNulty of BBC Sport noting:
Xavi had been immaculate on the ball, dictating terms at every opportunity, and another masterly piece of creation played in Pedro, who had time to wrong-foot Van der Sar with a simple finish.
It was possibly the high point of Pep Guardiola's reign, and Xavi, as usual, played a full part.
First Player with a 100 Percent Pass Completion Success in the Champions League
When you dissect Xavi's style of play it is essentially a basic pass-and-move philosophy, albeit carried out with ultimate precision.
There aren't too many players, if any, that can compete with the amount of passes Xavi makes per game in any event, let alone with the same pinpoint accuracy.
Making over 100 passes per match has almost become routine, in itself an incredible statistic.
Xavi remains one of a handful of players to have passed the ball with 100 percent accuracy in the Champions League.
Back in 2012 against Paris Saint-Germain, all of Xavi's 96 passes found their target. It remains a record.
Breaking the Champions League Appearance Record
The best European club competition is played by the game's best exponents.
Longevity in the competition is a sign of a player's importance to his side, and Xavi stands alone in this regard.
His first appearance came way back in September 1998 against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Per FCBarcelona.com, when Xavi entered the pitch in the 67th minute against Paris Saint-Germain during their group game in the 2014/15 edition of the Champions League, it was for a record 143rd time in the competition.
Only Iker Casillas (140 appearances) has a chance of overhauling him as Clarence Seedorf (125), Ryan Giggs (141) and previous record-holder Raul (142) have all retired.