The name Andrés Iniesta has become synonomous with victory. Since making his breakthrough in the Barcelona line up in 2002, the diminuitive midfielder has won just about every honour in the game and established himself as one of the most adulated players of his generation. Alongside other stalwarts in the side like Xavi Hernández, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Carles Puyol, Iniesta is a graduate of the famed La Masia academy, the Catalonia conveyor belt that has laid the foundations for the all conquering Barcelona and Spain teams of the past ten years.
After being integrated slowly into the Barcelona first team by Frank Rijkaard, Iniesta won successive league titles and came off the bench to help his side triumph over Arsenal in the 2005-6 Champions League final. It was under his childhood hero Pep Guardiola, though, that Iniesta began to show his true worth. Operating behind the strikers, alongside his friend Xavi, Iniesta was one of the first names on Guardiola's teamsheet as they swept all before them. Their blend of artistry and passing led them to three successive La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues, earning unprecedented plaudits from everyone involved in the game.
Whilst big money signings have come and go, the La Masia almuni have led the charge, forming a formidable unit with seemingly telepathic understanding. With Iniesta pulling the strings, there seems to be no end to the potential of the current crop of Barcelona players.
Iniesta is also a key part of the most successful Spanish side in history. Having represented his country at almost every youth level, he was named as a surprise addition to the 2006 World Cup squad. He played a peripheral role in the tournament, a status that proved to be short lived. He helped fire Spain to victory in the 2008 European Championships, being named Man of the Match in the semi final against Russia and making it onto the Team of the Tournament. His crowning glory, though, was to be the 2010 World Cup. He scored the winning goal in the final in Johannesburg to etch his name into the history books and earn the adulation of all of Spain. Every bit as breathtaking were his contributions to Euro 2012, operating with panache and precision as he guided La Roja to another famous tournament triumph.