BARCELONA | XAVI
Xavi Hernández: "Mourinho is controversial and a fanatic"
The midfielder also spoke about the future of Thiago Alcántara: "He is an extraordinary footballer, but he has to be patient, he’s destined to be a key player here."
Xavi Hernández has been awarded the Fair Play award by Barceona veterans and the midfielder gave a question and answer session on Thursday at the presentation of the award, discussing departing Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, Spain team-mate Iker Casillas and the upcoming Catalan derby between Barça and Espanyol,. The rivalry between the two clubs has escalated in the last few days after Barcelona came to an greement with the city hall of the Catalan capital to dress the statue of Christopher Columbus in a Barcelona shirt.
Mourinho: "He is a controversial coach, a fanatic. I will ignore what happens to him in the future, as it does not affect us.” On Wednesday, Xavi admitted “Mourinho was always an extra motivation for Barcelona.”
Receiving a call from Casillas to smooth things over between Barça and Madrid players in the Spain team: “I valued it a lot, because it helped ease the little bit of tension that there was [in the Spanish national team].”
Espanyol giving Barça a guard of honour: "I understand that the fans don’t want it to happen, but as long as the players don’t share their attitude, there won't be any problems. I know that the Espanyol coaches and players respect us a lot and they will give us a guard of honour, even though it’s difficult, we had to do it for Real Madrid [in 2008]."
Controversy of Christopher Columbus statue: "I have been a Barcelona fan all of my life and I think it’s fantastic. I understand that other people are annoyed by it, but for me there’s no discussion."
The future of Thiago Alcántara. "He is an extraordinary football, not just for the future, but right now. Right now he is not a regular starter but he needs to be patient, it also took me time to hold down a place in the team. I would tell him to be patient because he’s destined to be a key player here and to succeed."
Xavi on doping:
Hours before the awards ceremony, an interview with Xavi was published on FIFA.com in which he affirmed his support for the fight against doping in sport, such as the biological passport. However, the midfielder declared he does not think doping is common in football.
He said: “I very much approve of those kinds of tests. It is a pity but doping is very prevalent, not in football, but in sport in general, so for me every kind of prevention or control is good. People have to be healthy, sport has to be healthy and so it's good there are this kind of controls.
“I’m sure there’s none in football. I’ve never experienced it. In 15 years I’ve not seen it at Barcelona, nor with the national team nor anywhere else, but you still need to take a very tough line with this.”