In the second part of Sport’s interview with Xavi after retirement, he spoke about coaching and coming back to Barcelona.
What happens next?
When you leave Barca, the body is freed. It’s very curious. When you’re there so many years you don’t realise because you live immersed in stress and it all seems normal, it’s your day to day. When you leave you realise and you say ‘Wow, that’s where I was, what pressure I lived under! Every three days was an exam in which you’re judged for 20 or 90 minutes’. It’s mad.
For a player, a coach, a president, Barca is a final exam. They look at you with a magnifying glass and any error? Bam. You have to be excellent, if not, you’re good for nothing. It’s awful to live like that. We are competitive however and we love it. And for that, after stopping for a couple of years, I want to get back into it and have the adrenaline of being at the top of the world.
How did you find Qatar?
In Qatar we drew a game and I was furious because I saw my team-mates were so calm. It’s a different level of demand but you also realise there are other things in life. Qatar opened my eyes. Now we’re here without it being just my decision, it’s family. We’re really happy. Nuria tells me ‘If we can stay here, it’s almost better than going back’. I’m loving it, they give me everything, they respect me, they give e a strong team. It’s a great opportunity because I need experience, to test myself, to see myself on the bench. At Barca’s B team, for example, I’d have more pressure.
At Barca they expect a lot of you, they see you as the new Guardiola. Does that scare you?
I know and it doesn’t scare me. It happened to me as a player and it was not easy and it won’t be when I come back. I know what the expectations are. I follow everything that happens at Barca and there was a poll on the SPORT website that said that I was already favourite to come back to Barca’s bench now. Man, I’m grateful but that’s not right - I need experience.
If Barca asked you today…
I’d try to do my best but it’s not the moment. I’m starting from zero. Imagine you start an engineering degree and they ask you to make the tunnels in Vallvidrera. It’s the same, it can’t be. I need a base, experience, that I don’t have.
Do you have a career plan?
Qatar want me to stay until the World Cup, to help them in some way. We’ll see, but it also depends how they seem me at Barca. I’m not hiding that it’s my objective. I think that I can do well as a coach because I had great teachers.
There are some that say Xavi won’t come back to Barca until the current board leave, or until Messi goes…
Noooo. Both are totally false. I said it in my goodbye, I have no enemies. I’m like that. I have no bad relation with Bartomeu and the current board, I’m very grateful to them. They asked me to renew when I left! I have nothing against them. Leo, I consider a friend. I’d have no problem with him, none. If I was at Barca I’d talk to him first of all, he’s a person who is always direct, honest and open. I’m friends with him, to coach him would be a privilege.
They say at Barca winning a double doesn’t seem like much.
It’s unfortunate, the Champions League elimination. There is so much focus on that and it happened last year too. The Cule feeling is bitter, for how they went out, for not dominating the tie either at home or away. That is what gets Barca fans mad. In Pep’s era we didn’t win everything, but the feeling was different, the feeling of dominating the tie.
Is that up to the coach?
I don’t know. I’ve not been with Valverde, I’m not there to see how they train or what idea they have.