By Chris Wright
With Lionel Messi creating all the fanfare by surpassing Raul to become the all-time top goalscorer in European football history with a hat-trick against APOEL on Tuesday evening, it almost went unnoticed that another long-serving member of Barcelona’s team created his own little piece of history in the same match.
While Messi was banging them in at the other end, Xavi was quietly and efficiently going about his business in the midfield as per and also, as it happens, equalling Ryan Giggs’ record of 151 Champions League appearances.
Coincidentally, like Giggs, all Xavi’s appearances have come for just one club too. Double whammy!
Thankfully, one of the few people to notice Xavi’s milestone was Giggs himself.
Seeking to congratulate the second man to scale his appearance mountain in person, Giggs decided to publicly hail his Barca counterpart via Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
“It’s always disappointing to lose a record but to share it with someone of Xavi’s calibre certainly softens the blow,” Giggs gushed.
“For me he is like a chess player who is always two or three moves ahead. He is one of the greatest footballers in one of the best teams of all time.
“What surprised me most in the games I played against him was the way in which he caressed the ball and protected it, keeping if far away from his opponents.
“It seemed as if he always took the right decision at the right time.”
But wait, there’s more:
“What I most liked about him was his intelligence on the pitch and, although I don’t know him very well, the humility with which he carried himself.
“He reminds me a lot of Paul Scholes, but Xavi is definitely better at tackling! (#BANT)
“He has the qualities to be a coach because of the intelligence and leadership skills he has acquired during his career,” he maintained.
We suggest they get a room but given Giggs’ track record, that might actually qualify as libel.
(Via Mundo Deportivo/Image: Claudio Chaves)