I am here to play good football and help UAE youngsters, says Iniesta

The Spanish World Cup legend signed a one-year contract with Emirates Club in Ras Al Khaimah

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Spanish football legend Andres Iniesta holds his new club shirt as he poses with Youssef Abdullah Al Batran, chairman of Emirates Club, in Ras Al Khaimah.– Photo by M. Sajjad
Spanish football legend Andres Iniesta holds his new club shirt as he poses with Youssef Abdullah Al Batran, chairman of Emirates Club, in Ras Al Khaimah.– Photo by M. Sajjad

Published: Thu 10 Aug 2023, 1:37 PM

Last updated: Thu 10 Aug 2023, 9:32 PM

Growing up as a child in a small village, Andres Iniesta was deprived of an opportunity to play football outdoors.

There were no football pitches in Fuentealbilla, Iniesta’s native village in the Spanish province of Albacete.


So he took refuge in futsal, the indoor version of the beautiful game which is played on a hard court.

This was in the mid 1990s. But the tales of his extraordinary skills soon reached Barcelona.


And the rest, as they say, is history.

Now after 22 glorious years in Europe, having pulled the strings for Barcelona and the Spanish national teams, Iniesta is all set to start a new journey.

The 39-year-old midfielder, who spent five years at Vissel Kobe in Japan after leaving Barcelona in 2018, signed a one-year deal at Emirates Club in Ras Al Khaimah.

Andres Iniesta during the press conference
Andres Iniesta during the press conference

But Iniesta made it clear that he is not here only to play football for his new club.

“I am also here to promote football and help the youngsters here in Ras Al Khaimah,” he said after signing his contract amid cheers from his adoring fans.

“The facilities here in the UAE are wonderful. We have an exciting project here. This will also allow me to work with the academy players. I will try my best to pass on my knowledge. I will give all my support and time to help the young players in the club.

“Hopefully, we will be able to see a lot of good players in future in Ras Al Khaimah and in the UAE.”

Iniesta’s primary role, though, is still to play at a high level for Emirates Club and help them achieve big things in the UAE Pro League.

“I am going to do my best as a player to help my new team. I am here to play good football and to do good results,” said Iniesta.

The creative spark in the Barcelona midfield alongside the legendary Xavi and the incomparable Lionel Messi during their glory days from 2008 to 2015 when the Catalan club twice completed the treble (La Liga, Kings Cup and the Champions League in 2009 and 2015), Iniesta also dazzled for the Spanish national team that won three back-to-back major trophies (2008 Euro, 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro).

The Ballon d’Or may have remained elusive for Iniesta, but any individual trophy pales in comparison to the incredible joy he felt after scoring the match-winning goal in the 2010 final against the Netherlands that ended Spain’s long wait for their first World Cup title.

Exciting project

The Spanish legend, who also had an offer to join Messi’s Inter Miami, revealed what attracted him to Emirates Club.

“I was very happy to meet Mr Youssef Al Batran, the chairman of Emirates Club, and his team. They showed me their project for the future, and I am very glad to be part of it,” he said.

“It’s very important for me, this adventure, this challenge after many years with FC Barcelona in Europe and the five years that I spent at Vissel Kobe in Japan.

“Today, I am here with you. It’s a memorable moment for me in my journey as a footballer.

“It’s a new experience for me and I am very excited about this new chapter for me and my family.”

Andres Iniesta with his family and club officials
Andres Iniesta with his family and club officials

Al Batran, the Emirates Club chairman, said it’s a historic occasion for Ras Khaimah and the UAE to have a World Cup winner in its footballing landscape.

“Today, I see the happiness in the eyes of everyone to see the legend, Andres Iniesta. It’s an opportunity for us in Ras al Khaimah and in the Emirates Club to announce the signing of a very big player like Iniesta who is also a World Cup hero,” Al Batran said.

“I would also like to thank the great leaders of our country who have always inspired us with their vision and given us all the support to promote sport.

“Having a legend like Iniesta is not just a sporting opportunity for us, but also an opportunity in terms of business and tourism for Ras Al Khaimah.

“I would also like to thank everyone at the club who have worked hard to help us reach this stage where we can sign one of the best footballers of all time.”

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