SOCCER

“Heroes are people who fight against disease or emigrate to feed their kids”

Andrés Iniesta on the alleged end of Barcelona’s cycle and Spain hopes for the Confederations Cup

Andrés Iniesta: "I never dreamed I would score a World Cup winner."
Andrés Iniesta: "I never dreamed I would score a World Cup winner."VICENS GIMÉNEZ

Andrés Iniesta has his place in Spanish soccer history guaranteed after scoring the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The Barcelona midfielder has won everything in the game but has never taken part in the Confederations Cup as he was injured for the last tournament in 2009. Spain starts its Group B matches by playing Uruguay in Recife on Sunday.

Question. What does it mean to be in Brazil in 2013?

Answer. For me it's always important to play for Spain. It's an opportunity to play in a tournament I have never participated in and in a country where I have not played, and it's not just any country in terms of soccer history.

Q. Is it not a bit of a drag to play a minor tournament after such a long season?

A. Are you crazy? A drag to come to Brazil with the national team? Not at all! I'm very excited. You look at the teams playing and it's nothing minor. I think everybody is motivated to try and win a title Spain has never won and in a country that's crazy about soccer. I remember watching the 1994 World Cup on television and I never thought Spain would win and even less with me in the team. And the chance to play in Brazil, to set foot inside the Maracanã... And then there's the dancing: I'll have the chance to learn some new samba steps.

Q. I don't know about dancing but does the team need to learn to play in a different way?

A. Dude, we haven't done badly playing like this have we? What makes us a good side is the idea and the style. When you find the path, it's best to stay on it.

Q. But taking into account Barcelona and Real's Champions League semifinals, it seems Germany has found a way to push you off the path...

A. That's just talk for the sake of talk. Germany will have to win if it wants to take away our crown. Germany, Brazil, Argentina, or whoever... and because of the effort it took us we're not going to make it easy. We are still an international reference point but it's clear we have to keep improving because our rivals keep improving as well.

Q. Should Spain play more directly and with a traditional number 9?

A. We won the European Championship with a false 9 [Cesc Fàbregas]. We do have to do things differently to surprise our opponents. It's all about incorporating different aspects. What people want to see is Spain playing well, with a 9 or without one. That is what hurts other teams because it's difficult to play against a team if you don't know what they're going to do.

Q. Did Bayern Munich's Champions League win mark the end of a cycle?

A. No. I know there are a lot of people who would like that, but we are still alive. Cycles consist of years of achieving things and this one has lasted a long time. But it's not a word, it's a deed. We will try to keep it going because we know that when it ends, it will be hard to start all over again. You can't throw everything we've achieved into the bin after one tie where we were not at our best. Bayern was at its peak and walked all over us. They were better than us, but we'll see next year.

Q. Do you feel like a hero of Spanish soccer?

A. Hero? Not a bit of it. I do feel loved by the fans wherever I go, but a hero is something else. Heroes are people that fight against disease or emigrate to feed their kids. I'm a privileged person who plays soccer and sometimes has the chance to make people happy. And that's the good thing about this team in that we have given a day of happiness to all those anonymous heroes who don't have much to smile about. That's what I think anyway. And I've never won anything on my own; we won it together.

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