Posted on July 31, 2015

Former Spain and Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez Wednesday said his new club Al Sadd matches European teams in the way it professionally deals with football matters. Speaking in Kaprun in Salzburg, Austria, where the team is undergoing pre-season training, Xavi said, "The coaching staff, led by head coach Hussain Amouta, are doing a great job in getting us ready for the start of the new season. They are fully supported by the management. There is a professional way of dealing with things and I feel Al-Sadd matches European teams in terms of professionalism." 

On the progress of his adapting to the new team, he said, "It's really great to be here. The team here is like a family, a group constantly trying for success and this makes me fit in faster and aim for the same goal as everyone else - winning trophies. I know Al-Sadd are a team with a history of trophies, both domestic and continental." Regarding the training camp, Xavi expressed his satisfaction with the location and the capabilities of the Kaprun base. "The facilities are top-notch," he said. 

Xavi shared his previous experience with Al-Sadd, having played against them at the 2011 Club World Cup. "I remember how they won the Asian title and then followed it with the bronze medal at the Club World Cup. I have recently watched some of their games and have come to know the players more - especially Khalfan, Talal al Baloushi and the keeper Saad al-Sheeb. Also, I know the foreign players - Muriqui the Brazilian; Nadir Belhadj, who played in Europe earlier and the Korean defender Lee Jung Soo who has represented his country at the World Cup."

After spending three days with the team, Xavi feels that the level of the team is impressive, especially that of certain players who caught his eye. "I was quite impressed by the level of Hassan Al Haydos who is one of the finest, with his ability to move fast, think unlike the others and help the team all over the pitch. "There are many others like the captain Talal, whose one-touch play is at a terrific pace and then Ali Asad, who is great at penetrating defences; all of them will be of great aid to the Al-Sadd cause next season." Xavi talked about his role with Aspire Academy and the 2022 World Cup. "My experience as a player with Barcelona will help me to do my job well at the Aspire Academy, a job which has been described to me by Raul. 

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"I think the 2022 World Cup, being the first in the Middle East, is an opportunity for Qatar to show how much it has developed and after my experience with the people there, I am ready to do anything in service of sport in the country, and not just Al-Sadd." Regarding his international career with Spain, Xavi said it was wonder experience winning four titles. It was capped by the World Cup triumph in 2010. On Spain's exit in the group stage last year, he said, "We hit a block in 2014. This is how football goes. Spain is capable of reviving itself, despite being handed a tough draw for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers." (MORE) 

Pep Guardiola was an influential person in his career and Xavi feels that he will return to Barca one day. "I enjoyed a successful period with Pep at Barca and I know he will choose the right time to return to Barcelona." Xavi mentioned his admiration for many of his peers, who he wishes he had played alongside, including Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Iker Casillas and Santi Cazorla. Although he considers Ronaldo a great player, he said Lionel Messi is the greatest in the history of the game. 

He named Egyptian legend Mohammed Aboutrika as the best Arab player whom he watched at the Confederations Cup in 2009. Asked to give advice to aspiring footballers, he said, "The period between the ages 10 and 15 is when you play solely for the love of the game, for enjoyment only. "After that, till the age of 20, when one enters the professional stage, in terms of diet, sleep, training, dedication and hard work. Players should have a winning mentality and retain a professional outlook in everything in order to reach their targets." As for his own future, Xavi did not promise anything but spoke of his desire to become a coach or a sporting director. As of now, all that matters to him is leading Al Sadd to glory. 

"Football is my life and I will not leave it. I may become a coach or a sporting director. After retiring, I will determine what to do," he concluded.