Talking about La Masia is synonymous with a lot of emotion for Andres Iniesta. The sadness of his first day there, leaving his family and his teenage yearnings are now mere anecdotes after what he went on to be. When he speaks about La Masia, it's in a happy tone with a hint of nostalgia.
Iniesta told SPORT: "It's a bit of everything. Emotion, feeling, pride and happiness." He weighed up the last 20 years, and added: "What I learned as a player and as a person, is that which I consider most important when I take a look back."
Iniesta was incorporated at 12 years old. "La Masia is my home, where I spent a lot of time and I grew as a person. I matured at a tremendous speed and today everything that I have been able to do, is largely thanks to my time at La Masia."
All his experiences there have stayed with him, but most of all "the people that were there and helped me. The people of La Masia, with whom we cried and we hugged. They managed to take on the role of family, which is what we all needed." That's the teachers, the cooks, the coaches.... Andres rememebers them all and how they made life much more easy - particularly at the weekend when the rest of the boys visited their families and he was left alone, given his lived in Fuentealbilla.
20 years on, he said: "It was all worth it, obviously. It was a very important step and beyond the things we've got since, La Masia marked all of us who passed through here."