That was a concept we had been working on with Joan Vila for years, but it was natural for him. I often used to think ‘f**k, he’s four years younger than us, but he’s got an innate talent.’
Andres is, for me, the most talented player in the history of Spanish football that I’ve seen. He’s spectacularly talented. If we talk about him as a person then it’s ridiculous, he’s admirable in every single way. He’s exemplary, empathetic, a team player, a winner and a leader on the pitch, he always wants the ball. Do people realise just what that means? Where many players don’t want the ball because it’s a difficult situation, Andres always asked for it. Andres loved the ball and when others thought ‘no, no please don’t give it to me.’ Andres would come and say ‘Come on, give it to me, give it to me now, please.’That’s a blessing for his teammates, that’s what having personality is, that’s being a true leader. A silent leader, perhaps, but an authentic one nevertheless. I have been a passer of the ball all my life, but I needed players like Andres, Leo and Busi. You have been the best partners that I’ve ever had. They always gave you an option, no matter how bleak the picture was. I don’t know how, but Andres always showed up at just the right moment. We didn’t need to talk on the pitch, he didn’t tell me where he was with words, I just knew. We understood each other after playing together for a more than a decade, it wasn’t necessary to communicate. His body language was the best form of communication, sometimes during matches we would watch and wonder just how he did things, he could be in an impossible corner but would always escape. It was impossible! It seems as though nothing was impossible for him when he was playing football, he would weave, pass and accelerate with a near perfect balance.
He was as happy in midfield as he was on the wing, he is a teacher, a true teacher.Furthermore, people had this idea that Andres wasn’t strong. They thought he was too little, frail and flimsy. This was incorrect, when he used his body, defenders couldn’t take the ball. He was strong, really strong, just look at the number of matches he played in his career. In the end, his mentality is key, he’s been so strong in the bad times, even those which people don’t know about. He had a hard time living away from his family, and now if you were to ask him, he’d say such a sacrifice was worthwhile. Who knew it would end like this? Nobody could guarantee it, that’s what made it so hard and it was such a long road for him, the normal outcome would have been to fail, but his mentality was so strong that it carried him to this position today.Andres is a person who has their own angel, don’t ask me how or why, but he just has it. He’s like Iker Casillas. The rest of us just don’t have it, but they do because at the right moment they are able to make the winning goal or the crucial save. We have lived with Andres during our time with Barcelona and the Spanish national team.