Al-Sadd captain Xavi Hernandez will be hoping for the perfect end to his illustrious footballing career on Thursday, when he leads his team out in the Amir Cup final against Al-Duhail at the new Al-Wakrah Stadium. While there will be a lot of attention towards the opening of the new World Cup venue, Xavi’s focus will be on bidding farewell by winning another title with Al-Sadd.
Ahead of his retirement, Xavi had one last interview as a player with our official website, speaking about his experiences in Qatar over the past four years.
♦ Coming to Qatar is one of the best decisions in my life
♦ My family is very happy in Qatar and my children became Qatari after their birth in Doha
♦ I am grateful to everyone in my large family at Al-Sadd and I thank them for everything we achieved together
♦ My goal is to win the Amir Cup as the last of my titles; I am excited to play in the Al Wakrah World Cup Stadium
♦ I won all local titles with Al Sadd; I hoped to win the AFC Champions League as well and we were close to doing it
♦ I do not like comparisons in football; certainly, there will be better midfielders than Xavi
♦ My time as a footballer was excellent and I did not expect to reach this level in my career
♦ Barcelona and Al-Sadd will always be in my heart and thanks to everyone in Qatar
Q: How do you rate your experience with Al-Sadd during the past four years?
Xavi: I rate my time here in Qatar very highly. It was one of the best decisions of my life to come here. My family and I, we are very comfortable here. My children are like Qatari because they were born here. We are very happy and grateful to live here. Everyone offers us respect.
I want to thank my big family at Al-Sadd, all my friends on the team, the management, the staff – everyone worked hard and they ensured that I was very happy throughout these last four years. Once again, I am happy to have come here and as I said, it is one of the best decisions of my life.
Q: What are your final goals before retiring?
Xavi: We are delighted to reach the final of the Amir Cup. We will try to end the season in the best way possible by winning the title. It will be the ideal ending to the season, in the presence of His Highness the Amir and playing at the Al-Wakrah Stadium, one of the venues of the World Cup. As the captain of the team, I hope I get the honour of lifting the trophy. This is one of the most important tournaments in Qatar and we want to grab this great opportunity.
We will play a big team that has a number of great players. It will be a tough game but we have trained hard during this past week and I am very excited for the opportunity to win the last title of my life as a footballer on one of the 2022 World Cup pitches. We want to put smiles on the faces of our fans because they certainly deserve it.
Q: At the end of your career with Al-Sadd, which is the title you wanted to win the most?
Xavi: I won all the domestic titles here, the league, Amir Cup, Qatar Cup and the Sheikh Jassim Cup. I wanted to win the AFC Champions League. We had an excellent team and we were the better side in the semifinal against Persepolis but this is football. All the titles I won with Al-Sadd are important but I hoped to win the Champions League title as well, and we were close to doing it.
Q: Who will be Xavi’s successor in football?
Xavi: I don’t like comparisons in football. There are many excellent midfielders today, some of them are superstars, such as Busquets, Modric, Kroos and Verratti. Many others are there as well, but I don’t really like comparisons and I don’t want to miss out on any name. I think there will be better players than me, because football is like life, there is always renewal.
Q: What will your final message be and to whom?
Xavi: My final message is to say thanks to everyone. My time as a player was great, ever since I was a child. I did not expect to reach this level in my career. I played at Barcelona and Al-Sadd, and I achieved all my dreams with them. I want to thank Qatar, Al-Sadd Club and everyone in Qatar. You will always be in my heart.
A look at Xavi’s career
Xavi lifted the 34th title of his career when Al-Sadd won the QNB Stars League for the 14th time.
This was Xavi’s fourth trophy with the Wolves, after having earlier won the Amir Cup, Qatar Cup and the Sheikh Jassim Cup.
The legendary midfielder joined Al-Sadd in the summer of 2015, after achieving the treble with his childhood club FC Barcelona. While at Barcelona, Xavi won the La Liga (8), Copa del Rey (3), UEFA Champions League (4), FIFA Club World Cup (2), Spanish Super Cup (6), and UEFA Super Cup (1).
In the colours of the Spanish national team, Xavi won the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and lifted the European Championship twice in 2008 and 2012. He also won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999.