Andre Iniesta grew up in the small town of Fuentealbilla. His father was a brick layer, and after school let out, he'd take Andres to the park, where other kids joined in.
At night, they'd sit in front of the television and watch soccer. Early on, it became clear Andres had a special understanding of the game, commenting with his father about how players fared.
Signs pointed to "Andresito" having the potential for greatness, but Jose Antonio says he simply saw in his son a player who had above-average skills and was a good teammate.
At the age of 8, Andres enrolled in his first soccer academy in Albacete, forcing him to leave school early for the 40-mile drive, and when he was 12 he moved away from home. Barcelona scouts had spotted him at a tournament in Madrid and enrolled in La Masia, Barcelona's famous youth academy.
Iniesta went reluctantly. He was homesick, and his mother, Mari, missed him terribly. But he stuck it out. He was only 15 when Pep Guardiola, then still a player at Barcelona, saw Iniesta for the first time. Guardiola famously turned to teammate Xavi and said, "You will retire me, but this kid will retire us both."
On Friday, Iniesta announced that at the age of 33 he retiring from Barcelona, after a career that has seen him win eight La Liga titles -- soon to be nine -- and six Copa del Rey titles, the most recent last Saturday against Sevilla.
Iniesta scored a brilliant goal in the 5-0 win and left the game in tears to a standing ovation from the crowd at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.
Iniesta has won four UEFA Champions League crowns with Barcelona and two European Championships and one World Cup with Spain.
The 2010 World Cup title came thanks to Iniesta's goal in overtime that gave Spain a 1-0 win over the Netherlands. Back home, Jose Antonio was so nervous he couldn't watch on television.
Guardiola, who later coached Iniesta during the heyday of the Barca team that included Lionel Messi and Xavi, was among the many soccer personalities with tributes for Iniesta, who announced that he will leave Barca for the Chinese Super League's Chongqing Dangdai Lifan.
“I want to thank him,” Guardiola said. “People think managers help the players, but he helped me understand the game better, just watching how he plays the game. Hopefully, he comes back to Barcelona to teach young players or professional players what he showed on the pitch.”
Fourteen of Iniesta's 35 titles came when Guardiola coached him at Barcelona.
“I could say a lot of things," said Guardiola, "but basically the pleasure of seeing him train, how everything was easy, I think the most impressive thing about him how naturally he played. That is very difficult to find in a football player.”