Atlético Madrid midfielder’s comeback from brain cancer and mother’s paralysis
Club had a ‘perfect season’ – but ‘disappointment’ in the first leg final
As if on cue, a year in the making after turning 29 in April, the long-awaited comeback of an all-time classic Spanish football star starts to take shape.
On this day in April, almost exactly a year since Barcelona defender Carles Puyol died from cancer at the age of 51, Spain midfielder Xavi Hernández, also known as Xavi, made his comeback to play in the Club World Cup Final against Argentina, where he was in the run-up to the World Cup 2010 Final at the Maracana.
Just as in the 2012 final, the first leg between Spain and Argentina was played at Mexico’s Estadio Azteca, while the second leg was a replay, this time in the same stadium on 30 May. It was a match played at the height of their popularity, for millions were watching the game live on television in Mexico.
There was, in fact, little difference between the first and second leg, although the first game saw a crowd of 32.000, compared to the 25.000 for the second, and the match was played in front of a near packed stadium. What changed, however, was Xavi’s return to the pitch in the second game, where he played alongside Lionel Messi, who was suspended from the final due to yellow card accumulation. Xavi scored four goals, including the winner in extra time, in the first leg.
Since his surgery was successful, he has returned to training, and is ready to take part in the team training sessions, while also taking part in the training sessions of his team-mates.
When Xavi is in the dressing room, he is the focal point, where he spends all his time. He is not the ‘go to’ player for the Barcelona team, he is the player that the team’s coach and all the people around it like the most of all the other members of the team.
What’s more, Xavi has always been the one that fans have looked towards, whenever there was a big match that mattered to them, especially the Spanish team’s first ever game against the USA, when he was the only player to score a goal in the game.
At the beginning of the season, Xavi was injured, but had recovered