By Sports Reporter/Doha
Twenty years, nine months and two days after making his debut at Barcelona, Xavi Hernandez played the last match of his illustrious career on Monday night. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out as he might have envisaged as Al Sadd lost to Iran’s Persepolis in their last group match of the 2019 AFC Champions League in Tehran.
While the result didn’t matter much to Al Sadd, as they had already sealed their spot in the last 16 of the tournament and finished top of their group, Xavi deserved a winning farewell. The midfield maestro’s hope of winning one last trophy was also dashed last Thursday after Duhail thrashed them 1-4 in the Amir Cup final at the Al Janoub Stadium.
While many would prefer to put their feet up, for some time at least, after a playing career as long and successful as Xavi, the Spaniard already seems to have chosen the next chapter of his career. It’s no secret that the 39-year-old will step into a management role in Qatar, but what’s creating excitement is the possibility of Xavi taking up the role with Al Sadd.
There is a strong buzz in Qatar’s football circles, that Xavi will be given a long-term contract as coach of Al Sadd. And there are enough signs to suggest that rumours are not baseless. Jesualdo Ferreira, who led Sadd to league title this season, left the club after Monday night’s match.
Post-match, Ferreira predicted Xavi ‘will be a great manager’, but stopped short of confirming that it will be at Sadd.
“I think football has bid farewell to one of the best players in the world ... it was beautiful to work with a player with Xavi’s calibre,” Ferreira said.
Before the match, Xavi told EFE press agency that he would start his coaching career in Qatar.
“My idea is to start managing here in Qatar to gain experience,” he said.
Xavi, who won 25 trophies at Barca, wants to manage the La Liga giants in the future as he takes baby steps in coaching at Sadd. “This will set me up to return to European football and yes, hopefully it will be Barcelona, but right now I am not in that position.
“I am not ready to take this sort of role at top level and I need to be able to take small steps before reaching my ultimate goal. I have many ideas and concepts of how I want football to be played and how I would like to pass that on to future players.
“I have always been a massive admirer of how Barcelona play, their control of the game and their style – it is something I want to reflect in my own career as Coach,” he said. So all you fans of Xavi in Qatar, don’t be disappointed. You might still get to see him in action, albeit in a different role.
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