MADRID: As the player that makes the reigning European and world champions tick, Spain fans are hoping Xavi Hernandez can hold off the effects of fatigue and injury to lead La Roja to more glory in Poland and Ukraine.
At 32, the outstanding man in Spain’s triumphs at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup has at least one major international tournament left in him.
But is he fit enough, mentally and physically, to live up to the incredibly high standard he has set himself since finally coming to the international fore at Euro 2008, when he was named player of the tournament?
Xavi has averaged over 60 matches a year since 2008. His body is feeling the effects, with a chronic calf-muscle injury in particular taking its toll, but the player himself insists he feels in good health and has a good few years left in the tank.
“I am not thinking about the end of my career. I want to play all the time, I can be a bit of a pain in that regard,” he said recently.
He completed 104 passes more than any other player at the 2010 World Cup, and earned the nickname ‘Humphrey Bogart’ thanks to Andres Montes, the eccentric, late Spanish television commentator who associated his love of passing the ball to the famous misquote from the film Casablanca – “Play it again, Sam.”