Andrés Iniesta is not a prolific scorer. The midfielder has never netted more than nine in a single season for Barcelona. He is, however, a scorer of important goals.
There have been a fair few for Barça, but one will stay in the mind of the club’s fans forever. It even has a name: the Iniestazo.
It came at Stamford Bridge. It was Pep Guardiola’s first season as Barça boss and his side were 1-0 down to Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals. With the seconds ticking away, they were heading out of the competition.
But in an instant, Barça’s agony turned to ecstasy. Dani Alves swung a ball into the box, John Terry rose to head clear, but Michael Essien (who had earlier opened the scoring with a brilliant volley) gave the ball back to Lionel Messi on the edge of the area and, as time seemed to stand still, Iniesta hit a curler that flew past Petr Cech and into the top corner.
As the first leg had finished goalless in Barcelona, that was the winner. Victory, snatched from the jaws of defeat. All in one wonderful moment.
But it was more than that. It was also a goal that changed the entire history of FC Barcelona. Because without it, there would have no treble and no six out of six trophies for Guardiola’s great side.
But in May 2009, Barça had never won a treble, nor imagined that they would. In fact, they had claimed only one Champions League (in 2006, with their previous success in the competition having come in the final year of the old European Cup format in 1992).
That is how momentous this goal was. To change the history of a massive club like Barcelona with one swing of his right boot. A shy guy like Iniesta. Incredible.
It came after Chelsea had seen several appeals for a penalty turned away, but Barça too had decisions go against them in the first match and Eric Abidal was unfairly sent off in the second fixture. Over the two games, Guardiola’s side had deserved it. Nobody more so than Iniesta.
And a year later, he changed the history of Spain’s national team, too, by hitting the only goal in the World Cup final against the Netherlands in South Africa.
Not bad for a softly spoken guy from a tiny village in rural Spain…