Born on January 25, 1980, in Terrassa, Spain, Xavi Hernández joined FC Barcelona's La Masia training academy at age 11. Embodying the style taught at La Masia, the midfielder used his precise passing skills to lead Barcelona to multiple titles. He helped Spain win the 2010 FIFA World Cup along with the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, and finished third in Ballon d'Or voting from 2009-2011.
Early Years and Career
Xavier Hernández Creus was born on January 25, 1980, in Terrassa, Spain. The son of a former professional soccer player, Xavi demonstrated impressive athletic abilities at an early age and joined La Masia, the training academy of FC Barcelona, at age 11. A rapid rise through the academy's ranks earned the midfielder a spot on the 1997-98 reserve team, which won its division to earn a promotion.
The 1998-99 season was a successful one for Xavi, who scored a goal in his senior-side debut in August 1998 and went on to be named La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year. He was also a member of the FIFA World Youth Championship–winning team in 1999, and earned a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
By 2004-05, Xavi was a leader of a talented Barcelona side that featured fellow La Masia products Carles Puyol and Andrés Iniesta, as well as Brazilian stars Deco and Ronaldinho. Xavi's style was considered an embodiment of the passing and moving techniques taught in the Barcelona system, and it was effective enough lead Barcelona to league and Super Cup wins in 2005.
Torn knee ligaments forced Xavi to miss most of Barcelona's La Liga–winning season and Champions League victory in 2006, though he helped the club win another Super Cup that August.
Xavi's profile received a boost with his performance at the 2008 European Championship, when he scored in a semifinal victory over Russia and assisted on the lone goal in the final vs. Germany to earn Player of the Tournament honors. It was the start of an amazing stretch for the outstanding midfielder and his Barcelona teammates, who went on to win a staggering six titles in 2009. Afterward, Xavi finished third in voting for the Ballon d'Or award for the first of three consecutive years.
Spain claimed its first FIFA World Cup championship in 2010, with Xavi earning a well-deserved spot on the tournament All-Star team. Two years later, he again earned all-tournament honors at the European Championship as Spain became the first country to win three successive major international events.
With so much success under his belt, it was only a matter of time before the playmaker secured the top spot in the record books of his club and his country. In January 2011, he set a record with his 550th career appearance for Barcelona. A victory in the 2013 Super Cup gave Xavi 25 career titles, tops among Spanish players, though he undoubtedly hopes to add to that number before his superb career is finished.
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