Ivan Rakitic will play his 200th game for Barcelona on Thursday against Las Palmas, a number that when he arrived from Sevilla, he did not think he would reach. Three and a half seasons later though, he's 'one of our own'. The midfielder spoke to SPORT ahead of the game.
What were you thinking ahead of making your debut against Elche?
I was very excited, I had great hope and great pride. I think of all the words there are to describe this moment... it's almost impossible. It was the first time I wore the shirt, officially, now there are no more friendlies, it's about the points, you're going for real, it's an unforgettable moment and I was already wanting to tell my children and my grandchildren.
Now it's 200 times.
I didn't pick a number. What you always want is more. It's an impressive number. If someone had told me a little more than three and a half years ago I would get to 200 games, I would have told them 'tell me another one'. The only thing i want is to play more and that this never stops.
Have you achieved all you wanted, or are you missing something?
What Barca have is the ability to always improve, do things in the next game much better than before, it's another opportunity to show what you can do and what you should do. And the demands on us are huge and you want to keep fighting and doing what makes you happy.
What's been the best moment?
The most emotional... there are various. But one was facing Sevilla for the first time, here playing at home. And after that, obviously, playing yhe Champions League final in Berlin. Those two games.
What was the worst?
Various. We have suffered in many moment,s but the games against PSG and Juve hurt a lot. They were better than us and we did not enjoy it at all, but there have been moments in La Liga that have been tough and I didn't enjoy. But sometimes that happens to you.
The player who's surprised you the most at Barca?
It's hard to say. In general it's tough to pick one out. There is so much demand on everyone. Above all, arriving and knowing there are lads here who have won it all, the titles you dream of winning. And you see how they work, fighting and going for everything. And sometines you see that and say "wow, they pull you up". They are like a magnet, they pull you up to their level. And that is something that in other teams, with all respect, I don't think there is.
Do you remember any special assists for Messi?
I remember one in La Coruna from outside the box that Leo headed. And one of his for me against Granada at home. You want to connect ell and these moments stay with you.
The toughest opponent you've faced?
The best against us was PSG. Not for the result but the way they played. Knowing the coach (Emery) I know he would have studied it very well and sometimes you have to say 'chapeau'. They were better than us. Later we gave it back to them, but that's a separate story.