Andres Iniesta's brief allegiance to Real Madrid

Graham Hunter spoke on last night's Off The Ball about the Spaniard's ties to Barcelona's bitter rivals

BY Cian Roche 15:47 Friday 1 April 2016, 15:47 1 Apr 2016

Barcelona and Real Madrid is arguably the biggest game in club football at the moment and with each sides boasting their own superstars, the rivalry is just as fierce as always.

Ahead of this weekend's El Clasico, Graham Hunter told Off The Ball that one of Barcelona's midfield maestros, Andres Iniesta, has tenuous connections to their biggest rival.

"He grew up very attached to Albacete, his local club and Barcelona. Barcelona principally because of the dream team and Michael Laudrup was his hero. That attached him to a little kid to Barcelona.

"When Albacete went up to the top division, the went to Camp Nou and were beaten 7-1. That was it."

Hunter explained the affection toward his local club and the result of the heavy defeat.

"My Albacete is the way he'll talk about it, beaten by Barcelona. So he just sided with Madrid. All in. He was white as a bottle of milk, that's no illusion on his pigmentation, he was just that dedicated as a Real Madrid fan.

"Then when he was plucked in really strange circumstances by the Barcelona scouts and taken to La Masia he cried his eyes out, to the point where the fellas on the lower bunks had to learn to swim."

Andres Iniesta controls the ball during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Arsenal and Barcelona at the Emirates stadium London, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Iniesta as a child obviously obviously never forgot his allegiance to Madrid, as Hunter points out.

"The really strange thing was, as soon as he was identified as a little promise, a little starlet at La Masia, he was put on a local television programme identifying these young guys.

"While he was on the show he took the tv microphone and said 'Yeah, I was a Madrid fan. I was a Madrid fan when I was a kid'.

"He's talked about it over the years and often pokes fun at it... But it was something that alerted Florentino Perez and he wanted to make sure it was just a phrase through which Iniesta went or if there was something there that he could chip away at and try and tempt him to Madrid. 

"It didn't work and even though he wasn't born in Catalonia he considers himself half-Catalani."

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