Spaniard Andreas Iniesta is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation. Iniesta won the 2010 World Cup with his country and the European Champions League four times with Barcelona, among many titles with La Roja – the nickname of the Spanish national team – and Barcelona.
Iniesta currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan.
A new documentary film entitled “My Decision” presents the story of the midfielder’s recovery from his recent injury and his vision for his country in the 2022 World Cup, and is now available on Rakuten TV.
Why am I still playing football at the age of 38? Let me try to explain.
This is due to three factors: love, passion and enthusiasm.
That’s why I came back from a serious injury in 2020 to continue playing in Japan, and it’s the same reason why Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric are in Qatar, trying to win the World Cup at the same age.
Everyone who has been playing football all this time is searching for those basic feelings in their life.
There are different scenarios for each player as we get older, of course, but people may not realize that we all have this desire, a dream that drives us to do what we do.
We are lucky because we do what we love. Perhaps the day I don’t feel emotional when I see a full stadium, or happy to meet the fans and my teammates, is the day I should not play anymore and football is over.
I’m not ready for that day yet, nor are these other men.
The Spanish star went on to say that it will probably be the last World Cup for all of them, but something else will come after that, and everyone including me wants to see how these players develop.
“The World Cup will be different for me this time.”
A few things have changed in my life already, this World Cup will be the first since 2002 that I will watch instead of trying to win it with Spain.
It will be very different this time but I am happy nonetheless.
It helps that I haven’t played for the national team for a while, I retired from international football after Russia 2018, so I’ve already gone through the process of going from player to fan.
The World Cup is always unbelievable, and I’m going to enjoy this tournament in a different way, watching Spain with my friends, family and children, something I’ve never done before.
I love this Spain national team and I know and appreciate coach Luis Enrique. I like what he’s suggesting and we’ve got some great players.
They need to find consistency, but if they find their rhythm I think Spain is the contender for the title.
The player continued his speech by saying: As a Spaniard, this is all I want, and I have confidence in this team.
“You need to train your mind as you train your body.”
One of the things I’ve learned in my life is to always live in the moment.
At the moment, I am in good shape both physically, in terms of football and also personally in terms of mental health, but this was not always the case.
And before the 2010 World Cup, I had a very difficult time with depression. The desire I mentioned earlier had faded, there were times when I didn’t want to train or see my family or friends or do anything.
The World Cup really saved me, but the situation I was in really taught me a lot about how fragile the mind is.
That attitude has made me a better, more confident and more mentally mature person. All this was very useful in other situations in my life, not just on the football field.
I realized that you need to train your mind just as you train your body. It is still the same for me now, facing difficult situations in everyday life.
I look at that period in life as a real turning point for me, and I will use it as an example for other players or people in trouble, to show why they should have hope.
There was a time when the months were dark, after the death of my friend Dani Jarque in 2009, but it ended with a truly magical moment when I scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup Final.
This is what I would say to anyone suffering right now, the worst moment of your life can be followed by the most important moment of your life.
I have learned how you need strength to overcome difficult moments but also humility, you have to ask for help when necessary, because we individually are weaker than we are when we are part of a team.
Having this help has allowed me to regain my desire, and with a positive mindset you can learn and overcome anything.
I struggled but I had a very strong drive, the engine of my life is football, and that engine pulled me in and allowed me to live one of the most important moments of my life.
This previous experience definitely helped me when I tore my rectus femoris while playing with Kobe.
For me, that moment of injury was a very complicated moment to accept. It was a moment of reckoning, I was 36, and I didn’t know what was going to happen in the future.
From day one, I only thought about recovering and becoming a footballer again, but I didn’t know if I could, or how long it would take.
It was a completely personal process and usually private to the players, but I wanted to honestly show in my film all the stages and emotions I went through.
It’s a sports documentary but it’s also an educational movie, people can watch the protocol I followed to get back to full fitness and also all the work that was included.
I was fortunate to recover fully physically, but if you watch it you will understand that this is not the only positive aspect of the movie.
My mental health was just as important at this time, too. I had my team, my family, people I trusted, with whom I could express my feelings.
There were good days and bad days, but I’ve always had a positive frame of mind, and it’s the same now.
I know I don’t have many years in football ahead of me, but I try to live in the present and enjoy it.
I will end my playing career on my own terms, and the future will come.