Soccer-Xavi 'proud and calm' after being sacked by Barcelona

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - LaLiga - FC Barcelona Training - Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, Barcelona, Spain - November 3, 2023 Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez during training REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Outgoing Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez said on Saturday he was proud of his achievements with the club and was looking forward to being a fan again, as he prepares to coach his final game against Sevilla after being sacked on Friday.

"I have no regrets. I have tried to do my best. We have worked with a lot of love for this club. I'm a Barca fan for life... It's an apprenticeship for the future," Xavi told a press conference on Saturday.

"These are complicated days, they have not been easy, but I'm fine. I have a clear conscience, I'm proud of myself and calm," he added.

Barca's stuttering season led Xavi to say in January that he would resign at the end of this campaign. But after discussions in April at club president Joan Laporta's home, he agreed to stay on - with a series of unspecified conditions set by the club.

Then, four weeks after confirming their former midfielder would honour the last year of his contract and lead them through next season, Laporta changed his mind and axed the coach after a season with no silverware.

Xavi mentioned again on Saturday that the club faced problems. Similar comments had reportedly annoyed Laporta earlier in the season.

"It has not been an easy time because of the state of the club. I am happy because I have done a good job - we have won two titles, more successes and won important matches," Xavi said.

The 44-year-old arrived at Barcelona on a three-year deal following the departure of another club legend, Dutchman Ronald Koeman, at the end of 2021.

Xavi is a product of Barcelona's famous La Masia youth academy, which he joined at age 11. As a player, he won 31 trophies for Barcelona and Spain, including the 2010 World Cup, two European Championships, eight LaLiga and four Champions League titles.

As a manager, however, after winning LaLiga in his first full season in charge, he was not able to survive a stuttering season this year as bitter rivals Real Madrid closed in on a possible LaLiga-Champions League double.

Barca were thrashed by Real in the Spanish Super Cup final in January, knocked out of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals by Athletic Bilbao and eliminated from the Champions League by Paris St Germain at the last-eight stage. Adding to Barca's misery, Real face Borussia Dortmund in next week's Champions League final at Wembley.

Xavi didn't give a clear answer on whether he will forgo the compensation he would be due for the last year of his contract, saying only that he wants to rest and has no plans to coach in the near future.

"Laporta has told me why he thinks the club needs a change of direction and I accept it, he is the one who decides. I have no choice. I am a club man," Xavi said.

"I believed in the squad and that we could do interesting things, but it wasn't to be. I wish (Laporta) the best of luck and from now on I will be just another fan."

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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