FC Barcelona: The World’s TeamPosted: October 3, 2012
FC Barcelona is more than a club, more than a champion and more than Lionel Messi. It is the embodiment of a sporting ideal and is beloved across the world. Is there any place without Barcelona fans (page 68)?
The fact that the team has been so good has only increased its popularity. Barça has won 14 of 20 team competitions over the past five years. When asked where this team ranks among the top soccer clubs of all time, Spanish soccer commentator Ray Hudson said, “The short answer is by far the best. I can’t imagine anybody going beyond this purest example of football. They have spoiled the game for me. When I try to watch other teams and other leagues, it’s like I’ve just read a wonderful novel and gone back to nursery-rhyme books.”
To be a member of FC Barcelona’s youth academy is the dream for hundreds of aspiring soccer stars from across the world. Over the last half decade, the club has developed some of the finest soccer talent the world has ever witnessed. Most European clubs—Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea—are lucky to have even one homegrown player in their starting lineups. In Barca’s Champions League game on Sept. 19, eight of the team’s 11 starters were products of the club’s youth academy. They are not just teammates; they have grown up together, spending every day with one another. Midfielder Cesc Fàbregas said, “I’ve played with some of my teammates since I was 12. When Messi first came, we were both 13. He was so tiny! We’re all more like friends, and we fight for each other. I could go with this team to the end of the world” (page 66).
When Barça president, Sandro Rosell, spoke with all the members of the academy and their parents during the team photo session, he told them, “This is the essence of the club.”