Iniesta Has ‘Big Goals’ After Extending Career With Kobe

  Spanish football legend Andres Iniesta said Friday he wants to “achieve big goals” with Japan’s Vissel Kobe after signing a two-year contract extension. Advertisement … Continue reading Iniesta Has ‘Big Goals’ After Extending Career With Kobe


Spanish football star Andres Iniesta (C) is greeted by Vissel Kobe supporters upon his arrival at the Kansai International airport in Osaka on July 18, 2018. Iniesta’s transfer to J-League team Vissel Kobe before the World Cup arguably represented Japanese football’s biggest transfer coup, with many top players instead now moving to cash-rich Chinese clubs in the twilight of their careers. JIJI PRESS / AFP
Spanish football star Andres Iniesta (C) is greeted by Vissel Kobe supporters upon his arrival at the Kansai International airport in Osaka on July 18, 2018.
JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Spanish football legend Andres Iniesta said Friday he wants to “achieve big goals” with Japan’s Vissel Kobe after signing a two-year contract extension.

The former Barcelona maestro, who has battled back to action after a serious thigh injury, inked the two-year deal on Tuesday, his 37th birthday.

“What drives me is that I am motivated to work with Vissel Kobe to achieve big goals,” he told an online press conference.

“I want to be the one to decide when I will retire. I do not want injuries to force me into retirement.”

The World Cup-winning midfielder joined Kobe in 2018 in a deal worth a reported $30 million a year.

He helped Kobe, currently fifth in the 20-team J-League, reach the semi-finals of last year’s Asian Champions League.

Iniesta, named Kobe’s captain in April 2019, was sidelined for several months after he ruptured a tendon in his right thigh last December.

Following surgery in Barcelona, he was back training in April before returning to action in the J-League this month.

Iniesta said he aims “to bring my whole body and my game intuition to the top level and be ready to fight”.

“I am happy with where I am at as far as my condition is concerned… but I am still on my way towards reaching my top condition,” he said.

After his arrival in Japan, Iniesta led Kobe to ┬áits first trophy — the Japanese Super Cup title in 2020.

“This is a sign that our project is going in the right direction. What’s important is that we will always achieve this high quality of work as a club,” he said.

Iniesta has enjoyed huge popularity in Japan, with analysts estimating he has generated more than $100 million in ticket sales and merchandising revenue.

He has appeared in TV commercials for Japanese sake and mobile phone services.

Kobe’s tech-billionaire owner, Hiroshi Mikitani, has said Iniesta’s presence in Japan has helped improve the quality of the entire J-League.