With Spain one of the country’s hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Barcelona great Andres Iniesta says he is finding it tough to watch events unfold in Europe from his new home in Japan.

Iniesta, who joined Vissel Kobe in 2018 after a trophy laden career at Barcelona, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that while the importance of football was secondary during the health crisis it was frustrating not to be able to play.

Japan’s domestic soccer season has been put on hold during the crisis, with Iniesta remaining in Kobe with his wife and three children.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The 35-year-old, one of the most technically gifted midfielders to play the game, said it was difficult to be away from his wider family and friends back in Spain.

“It is a very difficult situation because you are not there with them, with your loved ones,” he said through a translator.

“You can’t see what is happening on a daily life level so that is difficult but we keep talking on a daily basis, checking in with them and just hoping that the situation gets better.”

The new coronavirus has infected more than 200,000 people in Spain and killed over 20,000. Japan has confirmed more than 11,000 infections of the virus with over 250 deaths.

Having to stay home and being unable to train properly has been a challenge but he is savouring being able to spend more time with his family.

“Right now, I think football becomes a secondary thing,” added Iniesta, who scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final.

“What is important right now is people’s lives, people’s jobs, trying to move society forward to get out of this situation.

“Having said that, of course as a professional footballer it is difficult to not be able to play football, to not be able to share time with my fans, my team mates.

“I try to focus on the positive things, staying at home I get to spend much more time with my family and with my kids, which normally it is not that easy to do.”

After a 16-year spell at Barcelona that saw him win nine La Liga and four Champions Leagues titles, Iniesta decided to take up a new challenge in the J.League.

His storied career and that move to Japan are the subject of a documentary about his life: ‘Andres Iniesta – The unexpected hero’, which is to be released on Thursday.

Despite winning virtually everything there is to win in Europe, Iniesta has not come to Japan to slide quietly into retirement.

He led Vissel Kobe to their first piece of silverware when they won the Emperor’s Cup in January and is hungry for more success here.

After his playing days are over he says he wants to move into coaching but will take things one step at a time.

“I feel I want to pursue being a coach but we will see what happens, things change on a daily basis so in a few years we don’t know what will happen,” he said.

“For now, I am focusing on what I have in front of me.”

When football is given the green light to resume Iniesta wants to pick up where he left off, imparting his wisdom to Kobe’s younger players and aiming for a first J.League championship.

The J.League have said it would be May at the earliest when matches can return.

“I want to share my experience with the young players. I think it is my responsibility too and it forms part of the big project I came here for,” said Iniesta.

“I like to talk with them, share things with them and I also like the feeling that they can ask me questions and they are learning stuff.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

‘I believe it’s missing some ingredients’: Derrick Lewis SPITS in Alexey Oleynik’s food ahead of UFC showdown (VIDEO)

Former heavyweight title challenger Lewis takes on submission machine Oleynik in this weekend’s headliner from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and, with both men preparing for the fight inside the UFC’s Performance Institute, it was only a matter of…

Chongqing springs surprise as young guns come of age

With one point to show from its first two games, it might seem strange to suggest that Chongqing Dangdai has been one of the success stories of the Chinese Super League’s opening rounds. However, a 2-1 loss to last season’s…

Conor McGregor says he ACCEPTS UFC rematch with old rival Dustin Poirier, providing the fight takes place THIS YEAR

McGregor, whose “retirement” announcement was seemingly taken seriously by nobody other than UFC president Dana White, who continually informed reporters that the Irishman had retired from the sport, has tweeted to confirm that he has accepted a fight with old…

UEFA set to suspend Champions League and Europa League amid coronavirus pandemic – reports

Marca has reported that UEFA will take the measure to suspend all European tournament fixtures in efforts to protect the health of players, staff and fans alike, after the coronavirus outbreak has played havoc with the 2020 sporting calendar. UEFA…