Andres Iniesta has been described as "the most talented player in the history of Spain" by his former Barcelona team-mate Xavi.
Iniesta's glittering Barca career came to an end on Sunday, the 34-year-old playing his last competitive match in a 1-0 LaLiga victory at home to Real Sociedad, having won nine league titles, four Champions League crowns, the World Cup and two European Championships.
Xavi departed Camp Nou to similar acclaim in 2015, and has written an open letter paying a moving tribute to his old midfield colleague.
"For me Andres is the most talented player in the history of Spain," Xavi wrote.
"He is a leader on the pitch, who always wants the ball. Do you know the importance of that? When many don't want the ball anywhere near them because there is no way out, he asks for it. Andres always wants the ball.
"He is a blessing for his team-mates. This is what it means to have personality, to be a real leader. A quiet leader, but an authentic leader.
"As a natural pass-maker all my life, I needed players like Andres, like Leo [Lionel Messi], like [Sergio] Busquets. They have been the best partners imaginable, always giving me an option even if the situation looked difficult.
"I don't know how, but Andres always appeared to me in the right moment. 'Look, I'm here!' But he didn't tell it to me by speaking. We never spoke much on the pitch in over 10 years playing together. It wasn't necessary. We understood each other with a look.
"Sometimes, I have the impression that you cannot explain in words what Andres represents as a player.
"He does everything with such ease that you think anyone can do it. But no one can do it like him. On the pitch, he is transformed. That's where his real personality appears. He is in his natural habitat."
Xavi has been playing for Al Sadd in Qatar since leaving Barca, and the 38-year-old expects Iniesta to recognise the scale of his impact and achievements as he prepares for a new challenge.
"Now that I am a little away from elite football, I realise what Andres is and what he represents," Xavi wrote.
"When he leaves Barcelona, he will understand what I mean. He has won everything, played in an incredible way, and is respected in the whole world.
"He is leaving in the way he deserves, because he never had a bad word or gesture for anyone. Look at how he is loved across the world.
"Soon you will really know and appreciate what you have done for football, my friend, Andres."
|Astros´ win streak ends at 12|
|Lahm backs Germany, Low after losing start|
|Messi has all our support – Dybala|
|Strickland apologises for ´stupid decision´ that led to broken hand|
|Five-time Open Championship winner Thomson dies aged 88|
|´Positive´ Pogba not bitter towards media, says Varane|
|Portugal privileged to have ´humble´ Ronaldo, says Pepe|
|Strickland breaks hand punching door after blown save, out for up to eight weeks|
|He will have received good money – Costa delighted by Griezmann extension|
|Kane: Pochettino sent me love hearts after World Cup heroics|
|Nationals place Adams on 10-day DL with broken finger|
|Dybala: I can play alongside Messi|
|Lewandowski: Poland didn´t take enough risks|
|England´s Kane aiming to reach Ronaldo, Messi levels with World Cup performances|
|Kicker given three-year match-fixing ban|
|England confirm Alli thigh injury|
|Federer through, Zverev out in Halle|
|Back on the map and earning letters from ladies, Tabarez embraces Uruguay´s heritage|
|Rampant England rout Australia in record-breaking display|
|Pulisic in right place at Dortmund, says Arena|
|Wilshere confirms Arsenal exit|
|NASCAR at Sonoma: TV schedule, standings, qualifying drivers for Toyota/Save Mart 350|
|Muguruza and Kvitova cruise through in Birmingham|
|Leno among top 10 most expensive goalkeepers|
|Pained Salah unable to halt Russia´s unlikely march|
|Kyrgios downs ´legend´ Murray as Dimitrov and Djokovic progress|
|Neymar pain normal – Coutinho unconcerned by ankle issue|
|Russia 3 Egypt 1: Salah strikes but hosts right on course for last 16|
|We must make Ronaldo less exceptional, says Morocco boss Renard|
|Chandimal handed one-Test ball tampering ban, faces further ICC charge|
|Arsenal sign goalkeeper Leno from Leverkusen|
|Mexico style in Germany win surprised Arena|
|Monaco complete €20m move for Lyon teenager Geubbels|
|Saudi team don´t know cause of aeroplane fire, Pizzi reveals|
|Champions League qualifying draw: Celtic travel to Armenia, Ajax face Sturm Graz|
|I´ve never seen a player win on his own – Santos shrugs off Ronaldo dependence|
|Murray impresses despite narrow defeat on return|
|West Ham land club-record Diop signing|
|El Hadji Diouf hails ´perfect start´ for Senegal|
|Cisse and Senegal give cause for African celebration|
|Carvajal ready to face Iran - Hierro|
|Japan´s World Cup victory over Colombia sparks celebrations on the streets of Tokyo|
|Poland 1 Senegal 2: Good fortune and bad errors hand Africans Group H win|
|England shatter ODI world record with total of 481 against Australia|
|Best yet to come from England hero Kane, says Rashford|
|Salah starts for Egypt against Russia|
|De Jong expects to stay at Ajax|
|Barcelona angered by Pique´s involvement in Griezmann saga|
|Federer begins Halle defence with comfortable Bedene win|
|Tabarez not worried by slow Suarez start|
|Brazil´s Neymar felt pain in his ankle, CBF confirms|
|Griezmann understands Atletico fans´ nerves over Barcelona speculation|
|Queiroz salutes Hierro for uniting Spain|
|Stump from Scotland´s defeat of England auctioned for charity|
|Red Bull will not have works team label, confirm Honda|
|Neymar hobbles out of Brazil World Cup training|
|Ronaldo´s revelry, Messi´s miss and Sanchez´s shocker - Russia 2018, World Cup of the penalty|
|Brazil ask FIFA to explain VAR decisions against Switzerland|
|Colombia 1 Japan 2: Sanchez red spoils Pekerman´s plans|
|Argentina v Croatia: Mercado wants an end to ´Messidependencia´|
|Hoffenheim director suggests €50m bid could land Kramaric|
|England will emerge as a ´champion team´, insists Jones|
|Ryder Cup teams shaping up great, says Strange|
|We cannot replace Iniesta – Abidal|
|Colombia´s Sanchez sees second-quickest World Cup red card|
|France v Peru: Varane and Les Bleus calm after unconvincing start|
|Semenya challenges IAAF hyperandrogenism rule with CAS|
|No Germany line-up changes needed, says Neuer|
|James absent from Colombia line-up|
|Alli to have scan on thigh knock after England win|