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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Barcelona welcomes return of Xavi following tearful farewell from Qatar’s Al Sadd

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Xavi Hernández is now the new FC Barcelona head coach after weeks of speculations. 

Football maestro and former FC Barcelona star Xavi Hernadez was honoured at a ceremony in Barcelona to mark his return to Camp Nou on Monday.

Thousands of fans flocked to the stadium to welcome his new milestone as a LaLiga team coach following the sacking of his predecessor Ronald Koeman. In footage that was broadcast live on YouTube, Xavi was seen signing his new contract on the pitch as fans chanted his name.

“I am really excited to be back home and I’m ready to start working tomorrow. I am really thankful to the president for his confidence. We are Barca, we are the best club in the world and we will work towards this,” Xavi said in a press conference on Monday.

“I was really emotional to see our fans today and we have to give back with exciting football. We need to work seriously,” Xavi added.

The Spanish footballing legend bid farewell to Qatar’s Al Sadd, where he had been appointed as manager, leading the team to multiple victories.

The midfielder moved to Qatar in 2015 to play for the Qatari-team after 20 years with the Catalans. Four seasons later, the 41-year old took over as manager and led the team to glory, winning last season’s league title as well as the Amir Cup last month.
However, the Spaniard announced his leave from Al Sadd on Friday after his release clause was met to join the LaLiga club as a head coach until 2024. This was despite Al Sadd claiming he had been focused on his role as manager of the club just days earlier.
In an interview with Al Sadd before departing to Spain, the footballer-turned coach said his time in Qatar was “was the best period in my life.

“When I came here, I found a big family, the Al Sadd family. And since the beginning it was a love story with the players, with the management, with a club and with the fans. It was an amazing privilege to be a player of Al Sadd, and then Al Sadd gave me the opportunity to take over as the coach of the team.”

 

“I leave many feelings here, especially personally for me and my family. It was an amazing, amazing moment. And then this is a love story forever. I will love Al Sadd forever, I will love Qatar forever,” he added.

“It was really emotional during the meeting with the players and I was crying, because during these six years, I had a very good relationship with the players and the management. And I think this is the most important part of life – the respect of the players.”

Now, all eyes will be on the football legend as he attempts to take the Spanish club back to its days of glory.

Read also: Amnesty urges David Beckham to use Qatar 2022 role to advocate for human rights.

Barcelona is now ninth in La Liga after hurling away a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 at Celta Vigo on Saturday, adding yet another struggle to their shoulders. 

The legend has been heavily linked with a return to Camp Nou ever since Barcelona sacked Ronald Koeman on 27 October following a 1-0 defeat by Rayo Vallecano.

“I have always said one day [Xavi] will be Barca’s head coach but I don’t know when,” Barca President Joan Laporta had previously said.

“It wasn’t goodbye, it was ‘see you soon’. The Camp Nou has always been my home,” Xavi said in a video addressed to the fans.

“You’re my fans, my people, the club that I love the most. And now, I’m coming home. See you soon, Culers. Forca Barca!”

His first game is expected to be a local derby against Espanyol on 20 Nov, after the international break.

Back Home

If ‘home’ is a team, then FC Barcelona is definitely Xavi’s. The football legend made 767 appearances for the senior team, holding the second record after Leo Messi (778).

Xavi won 25 major trophies in his 17 years playing for the first team—earning the love of millions of Barca fans globally.

Dubbed as one of the greatest midfield maestros of all time, Xavi helped redefine the art with his creative mind, pinpoint passing and sublime ability to read the game, the club said on its website.

“The utter brains of the team, he made up for his lack of physical might with extraordinary wits, superb skills and an extraordinary talent for governing everything that went on in the middle of the park.”

The World Cup winner had previously turned down a chance in January 2020 to coach Barcelona after Ernesto Valverde was dismissed, allegedly stating that he did not want to come in halfway through a campaign.

Although Xavi does not have a loaded coaching experience, he had coached Al Sadd to seven different trophies, three of which were in 2021 alone.


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