Barcelona and Spain legend, Andres Iniesta, has signed for Japanese club Vissel Kobe.
The 33-year-old midfielder was unveiled at a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday along with Kobe’s billionaire owner Hiroshi Mikitani.
‘I’m pleased to announce that Andres Iniesta will be signing up to play with Vissel Kobe after his historic career at Barcelona,’ Mikitani said.
Mikitani who’s also the CEO of Barcelona’s main sponsor Rakuten, a Japanese online retailer added: ‘Iniesta is a top global player. Many of us will recall Iniesta’s astounding goal in the final of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa that brought Spain its first title in the tournament.
‘Since 2015, Iniesta has also led Barcelona as captain and last year he was the first player to sign a lifetime contract with the club.
‘I am confident Iniesta’s philosophy, leadership and DNA will be a terrific inspiration, not only for Vissel Kobe but all Japanese football society.
‘We look forward to Andres Iniesta not only strengthening the team’s performance but also contributing to the development of the next generation of players through the introduction of the Iniesta methodology to the youth academy.
‘We believe his decision to come to Japan will have a major impact, not just on Vissel Kobe, but on football in Japan and Asia.’
Iniesta will raise the profile of Japanese football globally and we are working on activities to leverage his presence here and promote the J League worldwide. I am very proud to see this day come.
‘We will do everything in our power to support Iniesta during his time in Japan and show us all his beautiful, inspiring play.’
Iniesta who is rated as one of the greatest midfielders of all-time had recently departed his boyhood club Barcelona, where he spent 16 seasons, winning 22 trophies.