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23 / 08 / 2019

It's been a wonderful journey

Andrés Iniesta. Football player

How weird. Don’t tell me no, Fernando. It’s very strange, I would say beautifully strange. Here we are both, about to play your last game as a professional. I still have left. Here we are. On the other side of the world. It is as if life, capricious her, had brought us to Japan to say goodbye.

Football joined us more than 20 years ago, when we were children. Well, you will be forever El Niño. And it will never separate us. We met when we had utopian dreams. That goal that gave us the European sub’16 with the selection in England. I will never forget the gesture you had to dedicate that much to me. I watched it on television because I had to go home for an injury.

Remember, Fernando, that shirt signed in Trinidad and Tobago with a promise that seemed unrealizable. But we did it. And since then, always together. Vienna, Johannesburg … That unforgettable pass from Xavi for you to prove the wise, the teacher, Luis. That center of yours so that we all score the most important goal of our lives.

Separated, but always together. And until the last moment. Above shirts or clubs. We lived in different cities. You, in Madrid and I, in Barcelona. But we were never enemies. Simply friends who wore a different shirt, fused, yes, always in a red skin. Or Rojita, whatever we want to call him.

Because our history, although many do not know, comes from afar. From far away. Little did it matter that one day you broke down borders on the way to the Premier, where they discovered the talent of a unique Child, first in Liverpool and then in Chelsea. When you returned home to Atlético, I was excited like everyone else because football, beyond sports successes or failures, is a way of understanding life.

And you, Fernando, have dignified this sport . Our sport. I do not talk about the goals you have scored, for years I lost count, or the titles you have won in your wonderful career. I talk about your behavior, about your respect for the game, the teammate, the opponent and, of course, the ball.

That we began to spend in anonymous fields, far from spotlights, cameras, to share thousands of previous experiences before winning a World Cup for our country. When we coincide in Spain, I will show you that shirt, that treasure that no one else discovered. Although, it is true, there is no greater treasure than your friendship, Fernando.

It has been a wonderful trip. It has taken us to all corners of the world. And look where we are today. In Tosu, you and I playing a football game. One more. But it is not one more. It is your last game. Who was going to tell us! You face the Guaje Villa and me. Then, you will return home. Yours are waiting for you, although you have to know that the ball will be sadder today than yesterday.

Enjoy everything that comes to you now and be happy. But how strange, Fernando. You haven’t left yet and I miss you already.


Andrés Iniesta


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