JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE - JULY 11, 2010) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)
1. STILL PHOTO SHOWING ANDRES INIESTA SCORING THE WINNING GOAL IN THE FINAL OF THE 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP AS SPAIN BEAT THE NETHERLANDS 1-0
2. STILL PHOTO SHOWING INIESTA CELEBRATING AFTER SCORING
3. STILL PHOTO SHOWING INIESTA CELEBRATING AFTER THE FINAL WHISTLE AS SPAIN WERE CROWNED WORLD CHAMPIONS
4. STILL PHOTO SHOWING INIESTA HOLDING THE WORLD CUP TROPHY ALOFT WITH HIS TEAMMATES
5. STILL PHOTO SHOWING HOLDING THE WORLD CUP TROPHY ALOFT AMONGST PHOTOGRAPHERS
MADRID, SPAIN (FILE - JULY 12, 2010) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
6. INIESTA (RED HAT) NEXT TO XABI ALONSO ON OPEN TOP BUS PARADE AFTER SPAIN RETURNED HOME FROM THE 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP AS CHAMPIONS
7. BUS DRIVING PAST AS FANS CELEBRATE
MADRID, SPAIN (FILE - JULY 14, 2010) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
8. THEN SPANISH PRIME MINISTER JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO INTRODUCTING INIESTA AS SQUAD AND FANS START CHEERING HIS NAME
9. SQUAD AND FANS CHEERING INIESTA'S NAME
INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA (FILE - JUNE 10, 2008) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)
10. STILL PHOTO SHOWING INIESTA IN GROUP D ACTION AGAINST RUSSIA AT EURO 2008, WHICH SPAIN WON
KIEV, UKRAINE (FILE - JULY 1, 2012) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)
11. STILL PHOTO SHOWING INIESTA IN ACTION DURING THE EURO 2012 FINAL AGAINST ITALY WHICH SPAIN WON
NICE, FRANCE (FILE - JUNE 16, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
12. INIESTA JOGGING DURING TRAINING
SAINT-MARTIN-DE-RE, FRANCE (FILE - JUNE 24, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
13. INIESTA PASSING THE BALL DURING TRAINING
14. INIESTA DRIBBLING WITH BALL
MADRID, SPAIN (FILE - MARCH 26, 2018) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
15. INIESTA BEING HELPED UP AND WARMING UP DURING TRAINING
16. INIESTA JOGGING
SAINT-MARTIN-DE-RE, FRANCE (FILE - JUNE 23, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
17. INIESTA GREETING HIS WIFE
18. INIESTA HOLDING HIS CHILD
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE - MAY 27, 2011) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
19. INIESTA TRAINING WITH BARCELONA INSIDE WEMBLEY STADIUM AHEAD OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL WHICH THEY WON AFTER BEATING MANCHESTER UNITED
BARCELONA, SPAIN (FILE - MAY 29, 2011) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
20. INIESTA AND LIONEL MESSI POSING WITH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TROPHY
BARCELONA, SPAIN (FILE - JUNE 7, 2015)
21. INIESTA ON OPEN TOP BUS WITH TEAMMATES CELEBRATING WINNING THE TREBLE DURING PARADE
22. TROPHIES AND INIESTA CELEBRATING
BARCELONA, SPAIN (FILE - MAY 15, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
23. INIESTA ON OPEN TOP BUS DURING PARADE CELEBRATING BARCELONA WINNING LA LIGA
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE - FEBRUARY 19, 2018) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
24. INIESTA PASSING BALL IN CIRCLE DURING TRAINING
BARCELONA, SPAIN (FILE - SEPTEMBER 9, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
25. INIESTA JOGGING DURING TRAINING SESSION
BARCELONA, SPAIN (FILE - MARCH 18, 2017) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
26. INIESTA WALKING OUT FOR TRAINING
27. INIESTA WARMING UP
BARCELONA, SPAIN (FILE - MAY 20, 2018) (MEDIAPRO - ACCESS ALL)
28. VARIOUS OF INIESTA WAVING TO BARCELONA FANS DURING FAREWELL CEREMONY
BARCELONA, SPAIN (FILE - DECEMBER 18, 2018) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
29. INIESTA RECEIVING SPAIN NATIONAL TEAM MVP AWARD AT AN AWARDS CEREMONY ORGANISED BY MARCA SPORTS NEWSPAPER
TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - MAY 24, 2018) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
30. INIESTA ARRIVING ON STAGE FOR SIGNING CEREMONY WITH VISSEL KOBE CHAIRMAN HIROSHI MIKITANI
31. INIESTA AND MIKITANI POSING FOR PHOTOS WITH VISSEL KOBE SHIRT
32. INIESTA'S NUMBER 8 VISSEL KOBE SHIRT
33. INIESTA AND MIKITANI
STORY: A shy village boy who could not bear to leave his parents' bed, Andres Iniesta may have seemed an unlikely candidate to become one of the best footballers of all time, but anyone who saw him play rarely had serious doubts.
Iniesta, who turns 36 on Monday (May 11), weaved his magic for Barcelona for 16 years and was one of the architects of the club's greatest era, playing a defining role as they won 32 trophies including nine Spanish titles and four Champions League crowns.
"This kid is going to retire us all," said Pep Guardiola when he first watched a teenage Iniesta in action while Spain coach Luis Enrique describes the diminutive midfielder as "Harry Potter, waving his wand".
Iniesta conducted an equally mesmerising orchestra for Spain and clinched his country's finest sporting achievement when his extra-time goal against the Netherlands sealed victory in the 2010 World Cup final.
That cold-blooded strike in Johannesburg's Soccer City Stadium forever endeared Iniesta to Spaniards no matter their allegiances, earning him standing ovations even when playing away to Barca's sworn enemies Real Madrid and Espanyol.
Most touching, though, was how he celebrated that career-defining goal -- ripping off his shirt to pay tribute to his late friend and fellow footballer Dani Jarque who died the previous year.
Jarque's sudden death and a series of injuries had led Iniesta into a severe bout of depression, things getting so bad that he asked to sleep in his parents' bed, just as he had done as a 10-year-old when home from Barcelona's academy.
He conquered his demons with the help of a psychologist and a supportive coach in Guardiola, who had never forgotten how Iniesta backed him when he got off to a rocky start in his first season at Barca.
That campaign ended with Barcelona winning the Champions League, helped by Iniesta's stoppage-time goal against Chelsea to reach the final, sparking a 50% surge in the birth rate in Barcelona.
Last week, he honoured the anniversary of the "Iniestazo" by calling up some of the children his goal had given life to.
"Iniesta is the boyfriend every mother would want for her daughter," said his former Spain team mate Sergio Ramos, summing up the player's universal appeal.
Iniesta called time on his magnificent spells with Spain and Barcelona in 2018 to see out his career in Japan with Vissel Kobe, where he is a role model for the club's future generations.
The only major thing missing from Iniesta's honours list is the prestigious Ballon d'Or, and when he announced he was leaving Barca, organisers France Football felt a pang of guilt for not giving him the award for best player in the world.
"Forgive us, Andres," said their editorial.
"Of all the absences on the list of Ballon d'Or winners, his is particularly painful."
(Production: Stefan Haskins)