Remarkably, Iniesta dominates the game while standing only 5' 7" and weighing 143 pounds, a size he said he finds advantageous. "You learn to be sharper, cleverer," he told the British newspaper The Observer. "Small players learn to be intuitive, to anticipate, to protect the ball. In the playground I always played against much bigger kids, and I always wanted the ball. Without it, I feel lost."
Barcelona's results with Iniesta in the starting lineup have been staggering. The club had won four league titles and two Champions League crowns through May 15. Iniesta was fifth in the voting for FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 and second, to Lionel Messi, in 2010.
While Barcelona has been blessed with prodigious scorers such as Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry during Iniesta's tenure, Iniesta scored arguably the biggest goal in the recent history of the club. His strike from outside the penalty area in the final minute of stoppage time against Chelsea in the 2009 Champions League semifinals sent Barcelona through to the final against Manchester United. It also prompted wild celebrations on Barcelona's famed Ramblas, and praise around the country that soared past hyperbole. "Now we know who the God of football is," wrote columnist Juan Cruz of the sports daily As. "His name is Andrés, he is shy and he comes from Albacete."
Barcelona then won the Champions League final in Rome, beating Man U 2--0 to seal the Blaugrana's treble along with the La Liga crown and the Copa del Rey, a feat never before achieved by a Spanish club. After the game, United forward Wayne Rooney called Iniesta the best player in the world. "Hearing people from the soccer world say good things about us ... should motivate us," Iniesta said. "We should use it to try to better ourselves. This team can keep on winning titles."
It was the World Cup, though, that made Iniesta an international superstar. Europa Press recently reported that Iniesta was the most popular Spanish sportsman on the Internet in 2010. His Facebook page has more than four million "likes," and he is followed by nearly 900,000 people on Twitter. He is taking lessons in English and Catalan to communicate better with fans. "Please think that I am learning ... [and] be patient," he told his Facebook followers.
It is such earnestness that prompted Guardiola to say in December 2010, "Iniesta reflects what our club as an institution is all about." So it was entirely predictable that a year and a half ago Iniesta signed an extension with Barça through 2015.
Away from the pitch, meanwhile, the 27-year-old Iniesta recently spent $11.3 million to buy a vineyard and winery just outside his hometown. The aim is to produce 700,000 bottles a year under the label Bodega Iniesta. The vineyard's philosophy, according to Iniesta, is similar to the one with which he has approached his life on the pitch.
"This is a family business," he said. "My family has owned vineyards for years, and we used to pick the grapes personally. It's true that making wine is a business, but I see it as a business to enjoy. I want the wine to be a reflection of who I am. The standards are high, but so are methods of meeting them: hard work, family support and knowledge."