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BARCELONA

Xavi: "Guardiola even changed Real Madrid's style of play"

Former Barcelona midefielder Xavi Hernández expresses his admiration for the way Pep Guardiola started a "football revolution" in a documentary aired by Sky Sports

A documentary entitled ‘Pep’ – which will be broadcast by Sky Sports (UK) on Monday evening – looks at the influence of new Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola on world football.

And one of the testimonies that the programme features comes from his former midfield general at Barcelona, Xavi Hernández.

Footballing revolution 

“The first year of Pep started a revolution of football. We made history. No only through the triumphs, but in how we played. In only a couple of years, nobody was playing with long balls anymore…even Madrid changed their style. He changed world football, not just Barcelona. I think he’s one of the only people who could change English football.”

Manchester City's Spanish head coach Pep Guardiola reacts during the friendly football match between Arsenal and Manchester City

Xavi also revealed that, during his time as a reserve player at Barça, he became fixated with Guardiola. “Joan Vila, who was my mentor at La Masia, said to me: ‘Kid, learn everything you can from Pep. His first touch, how he turns his head when he receives the ball, when he’s under pressure, when he has space, his change of rhythm, how he uses both feet…’”

Xavi admiration 

Expressing his admiration for his former boss even further, Xavi said. “The first thing I remember when he became coach is that he wouldn’t allow any player not to train hard: ‘It’s the only thing I ask that you work hard for the team’ he would say. It was a revolution of football, a modern way of understanding it.”