Barcelona great Xavi confirms retirement plans

Spain and Barcelona midfield great Xavi has confirmed his intention to finish playing at the end of this season and move into coaching. 

The 39-year-old has represented Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League since leaving Barca at the end of their treble-winning 2014-15 campaign. 

Xavi initially said he would retire at the end of last season but postponed these plans and signed a two-year contract extension 12 months ago. 

However, he again spoke of a desire to bring down the curtain on his celebrated playing days last November and now hopes to sign off by helping Al Sadd to Emir Cup glory. 

"Over the coming four weeks, I will be lacing my boots for the last games of an unforgettable career, which has spanned over 21 years and taken me to every corner of the world," Xavi said. 

"It has been a fantastic end to my playing career here in Qatar. Winning the Qatar Stars League this month was the title that was missing. Since I arrived here we have won everything and only the league was missing, so I'm very happy. 

"As a sportsperson, you never get tired of winning. Once you have won a title you always want to win more." 

Xavi's overall title haul is plentiful and includes eight LaLiga triumphs and four Champions Leagues, while he played a pivotal role in Spain's 2010 World Cup win – a moment of glory that came in between their successes at Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. 

If more trophies are to follow in his coaching career, they will do so with Xavi following a familiar model. 

"You will see that my coaching philosophy reflects the style that we were able to develop over many years through the influence of Johan Cruyff, La Masia and the Barcelona way of playing football," he said. 

"I love to see teams taking the initiative on the pitch, playing attacking football and going back to the essence of what we all love about this game since our childhood days; having possession of the football." 

Xavi added: "I have been privileged to achieve everything that I was able to do over the past two decades." 

Barcelona issued a statement on their website playing tribute to their former captain, who won a total of 25 trophies with the LaLiga giants while playing under the likes of Louis van Gaal, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.
 
"Xavi is a living example of FC Barcelona's emblematic style of play," it read, under a heading describing Xavi as Barca's "torchbearer".
 
"He arrived at the club in the 1991-92 season to play for Under-12 team and La Masia became the place where he learned the fundamentals of the midfield from the man who would become his friend and mentor, Pep Guardiola, who Xavi would later succeed as the backbone of the Barca midfield for almost two decades."
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