Xavi retires: how will he be remembered?

Xavi Hernández is retiring from playing aged 39; read what the Barcelona greats had to say about him.

Xavi Hernández is retiring from football with a view to coaching
Xavi Hernández is retiring from football with a view to coaching ©Getty Images

A four-time UEFA Champions League winner at Barcelona, Xavi Hernández has confirmed that he is bringing an end to his playing career following four years in Qatar with Al-Sadd.

"This is my final season as a player but I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds as a coach," the 39-year-old said. "My philosophy as a coach reflects the style that we developed over years under Johan Cruyff and La Masia's influence. I love to see sides take the initiative, playing attacking football and going back to the essence of what we all loved in our youth: possession football."

UEFA.com looks back on how some important footballing figures – his father, colleagues, opponents and admirers – rated the midfield metronome.

"He's lived football with a great passion since he was little. He's an authentic professor of football. He watches games, reads about football, follows so many teams, opponents and everything in general. He lives and breathes football."
Joaquim Hernández, Xavi's father

Xavi's Barcelona highlights
Xavi's Barcelona highlights

"I have run out of compliments for him. There is no one who can compare to what he represents as a person and a player. His statistics, longevity, the feelings he conjures, his way of doing things are beyond words. He is a unique player, a one-off and he has been fundamental to this club and to Spain. It is a true pleasure and privilege to have played alongside him my entire career."
Andrés Iniesta, former Barcelona midfielder

"If Xavi has a bad day then Barcelona do not play half as well. He is the one who dominates the rhythm of the game. His play allows the team to function. He is different."
Johan Cruyff, late ex-Barcelona forward and coach

Xavi: My dream five-a-side team
Xavi: My dream five-a-side team

"He's also very respected in the dressing room. When he is not playing he is watching football all the time. He will become a coach, I'm sure of it."
Josep Guardiola, former Barcelona midfielder and coach

"Xavi is the best, he is the one we should be talking about. I love Xavi, he is excellent. The reason I like Barça is primarily because of Xavi."
Pelé, Brazil great

"Xavi is another monumental player for Barcelona, like Carles Puyol was. He's another emblematic player. He has played at a level that exceeded all expectations from a young age. He deserves a tribute like no one else."
Abidal, former Barcelona defender

Highlights: Barcelona beat Man. United in 2011 final
Highlights: Barcelona beat Man. United in 2011 final

"It wasn't really Messi who was the problem. It was Iniesta and Xavi. They can keep the ball all night long."
Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager after Barcelona beat his team 3-1 in the 2011 UEFA Champions League final

"While we live in the present, Xavi lives in the future. He thinks ahead of everyone else and he makes everything so much easier."
Dani Alves, former Barcelona defender

"People ask me every year who I'd take out of the Barcelona team to give us a better chance of winning and every year I tell them the same: Xavi. His control and use of the ball make him their best player."
Iker Casillas, former Real Madrid goalkeeper

"Xavi has been key to Spain's style and all the success achieved. He helped define our style. We all agree that Xavi is that important for us – even more important than the coach. He's a player for whom we have so much personal affection but also affection in terms of football. Xavi leaves a void, but more importantly, he leaves a legacy."
Vicente del Bosque, former Real Madrid and Spain coach