Iniesta says World Cup-winning strike helped in his depression battle

‘My friend Dani Jarque died… the goal was the start of the improvement’: Andres Iniesta reveals World Cup-winning strike helped in his battle with depression after bereavement which required professional help

  • Andres Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final
  • He took his shirt off in celebration and dedicated it to his friend Dani Jarque
  • Iniesta has been open about battling depression after his Jarque’s passing
  • The midfielder sought professional help to cope with the bereavement process 

Andres Iniesta has revealed that his World Cup-winning goal against Holland in 2010 played a key role in his battle with depression.

The Barcelona and Spain icon suffered ‘one of the hardest phases’ of his life with Dani Jarque, a former Espanyol midfielder and close friend to Iniesta, died suddenly aged 26 following a heart attack in 2009.

Iniesta has been open and honest about the ‘fragile situation’ that Jarque’s death placed him in as he tried to grieve for his friend.  

Andres Iniesta marked his World Cup final goal in 2010 with a tribute to friend Dani Jarque after the former Espanyol midfielder died aged 26 following a heart attack the year before

Iniesta believes that goal was ‘the beginning’ of his improvement in his battle with depression

But speaking about his winning goal in South Africa a decade ago in which he netted before revealing a tribute written on his undershirt for Jarque, Iniesta pinpoints that moment as key in bringing positivity back to his life. 

The tribute shirt in South Africa read: ‘Dani Jarque, siempre con nosotros’ (Dani Jarque, always with us). 

Speaking to Bild am Sonntag, Iniesta said: ‘Unfortunately, I had to experience several misfortunes in a row, even though I was really successful at the time. 

Jarque (right) was very close to Iniesta and his death became very troubling for his friend 

‘But then my friend Dani Jarque died in August 2009, which really put me in such a fragile situation that I needed professional help.

‘It was certainly the hardest phase of my life. It was very good for me to have the support of Anna, my then girlfriend and current wife, and of course that of my parents.’

The game was in the balance in that final before Iniesta stepped up to be the hero for Spain in a moment he has described as ‘the beginning of the improvement.’

‘Fortunately, this phase is a thing of the past,’ he continued. ‘A phase that made me stronger and better.’ 

Despite being among the most decorated players in Barcelona and Spanish football history, Iniesta, now playing out in Japan with Vissel Kobe has found it important to be clear and honest about his mental health struggles. 

As well as the 2010 World Cup, he won two European Championships with Spain and at Barcelona he lifted four Champions League titles and nine LaLigas.  

Iniesta’s goal sealed the World Cup and he thinks that moment helped him move forward

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Orlando's Disney World favourite to host NBA season amid coronavirus pandemic

Disney World has emerged as the front-runner to host NBA teams and games if the 2020 season resumes, according to a media report.

The Athletic understands that Orlando has moved ahead of Las Vegas as the top neutral-site candidate to become the NBA’s playing venue for the remainder of the season, but ESPN have reported the league is still considering a two-site format in both Orlando and Las Vegas.

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October's Twenty20 World Cup likely to be postponed for a year

October’s Twenty20 World Cup likely to be postponed for a year with England’s bid to add title to 50-over triumph last summer set to be put on hold

  • A switch to early 2021 has been mooted but England will face India in January
  • It would have a knock-on effect of the 2021 Twenty20 World Cup in India
  • That tournament is now set to be delayed until October-November 2022
  • Eoin Morgan’s men are due to defend their 50-over title in February 2023

England’s bid to unite the global game’s two white-ball belts is set to be put on hold with October’s Twenty20 World Cup looking likely to be postponed for 12 months.

Shifting the 16-team event in Australia a full year would have a knock-on effect of the 2021 Twenty20 World Cup in India being delayed to October-November 2022.

It does not represent an ideal schedule change, with Eoin Morgan’s team due to defend the 50-over world title on the subcontinent just three months later, in February 2023. It would also mean England heading straight out of the next global event and into the 2021-22 Ashes in November of next year.

The T20 World Cup is set to be delayed by a year, putting England’s bid to win it on hold

Eoin Morgan’s men will now have to wait to try to add to last summer’s 50-over victory

However, there is a growing feeling within cricket’s international community that fulfilling a competition involving 15 different teams flying into Australia in five months’ time represents too much of a logistical nightmare. 

A switch to early 2021 has previously been mooted, but there is no obvious window for it as India’s lucrative five-match Test series with England is slated to start in late January.

Such tours — India’s visit to Australia for Tests at the back end of this year is understood to be worth £150million to Cricket Australia — are viewed as essential to get revenue streams flowing again.

Moving the T20 World Cup would also create a new October-November window for the Indian Premier League season to take place.

Organisers have suggested a definitive call need not be made until July and the ICC insist this potential switch ‘is all pure speculation’, but re-scheduling will be high on the agenda during the ICC’s two-day chief executives’ teleconference on June 4-5.

Aaron Finch’s Australia will host it but 15 teams flying there now would be logistically difficult

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T20 World Cup: Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie ‘worried’ about postponement

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie says his “gut feeling” is this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia will not take place as planned.

The International Cricket Council has confirmed plans to stage the event in October, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Balbirnie, 29, thinks logistical issues and a lack of international cricket may force the ICC into a postponement.

“I’d be worried the tournament wouldn’t go ahead,” Balbirnie told BBC Radio Ulster’s Sportsound Extra Time.

“You have to look at it logistically – there would be 16 teams flying into the country.

“The way this pandemic has panned out, a lot can happen in a couple of days, so we really don’t know yet. It’s tricky, but we’re battling on.”

  • Balbirnie delivers ‘virtual batting masterclass’
  • Australia captain Lanning joins Ireland squad for batting ‘masterclass’
  • Moon boots, board games and barbecues – Mark Adair’s lockdown

Balbirnie says a lack of competitive action over the coming weeks and months will leave players ill-prepared for the 16-team tournament.

Ireland’s schedule has already been upended by the pandemic, with their six-game tour of Zimbabwe and seven-match series against Bangladesh called off.

“It’s going to be a unique situation,” said the batsman.

“There won’t have been any international cricket this summer at all, so there will be a lot of people going in undercooked.

“When we get back training, we will have to be really specific as to what we want to do.”

  • Men’s T20 World Cup schedule – as it stands

Balbirnie added that the first few months of his Twenty20 captaincy since succeeding Gary Wilson in November have been “strange” given the global sporting shutdown.

“I had a couple of months before my first day in January when I had two tours, and now it’s been two or three months since my last game,” he said.

“It’s definitely more sporadic than I hoped it would be.

“Certainly that first game in the West Indies, there was a long build-up. I would say it was too long for me. I would have liked to have got stuck in straight away, but we had an exciting group to go out to the Caribbean, one of the nicest places to play cricket.

“The one-day series didn’t really go to plan, but I thought we were good in the T20 series in patches, and I suppose seeing some guys come in who haven’t played a lot of international cricket and seeing first-hand how they go about their business – not shying away from a fight – was really reassuring.”

A pawn in the Balbirnie family chess hierarchy

Like the rest of the sporting world, Balbirnie has been challenged with filling his days during the lockdown.

That has included participating in virtual batting masterclasses with Irish cricket clubs as well as constructing a giant chess board on in his garden using empty beer bottles as pawns and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s biography as his king.

“The days are mixing into weeks and months at this stage, so we got the old chess board out of the attic,” he said.

“A week or two after that, we got a bit more creative and last week we set it up on our deck. I think I had six or seven empty bottles of Moretti as pawns, Jurgen Klopp’s biography as my king.

“I was playing my dad and he had a picture of my mum as his queen, so it was pretty creative.

“Unfortunately, I’ve lost to him. We’ve played about 10 times, so I think I’m going to shut up shop.”

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World Rugby: Decision on next boss imminent as vote closes

The next boss of World Rugby could be announced as early as Saturday, rather than on the original date of 12 May.

The vote closed on Thursday with current chairman Sir Bill Beaumont and vice-chairman Agustin Pichot vying for the top job in the sport.

While the process is confidential, it is understood one of the candidates has won a majority.

So Beaumont and Pichot have agreed to bring the announcement forward after one of the closest races in history.

Once the decision is cleared by the World Rugby council, the governing body will announce who will lead the game for the next four years.

While Beaumont, 68, is the narrow favourite to be re-elected, former Argentina skipper Pichot has run a dynamic campaign as he vows to shake up the establishment.

The former England captain has the backing of the Six Nations unions and Rugby Europe – a total of 20 of the 26 votes needed – but Pichot, 45, has the support of the southern hemisphere Sanzaar unions, as well as the regions of South America and Asia.

With the north American votes thought to be split, the likes of Japan and Rugby Africa could hold sway, with a source close to Pichot telling the BBC the race is “very tight”.

Following the closing of the vote, Beaumont thanked his supporters and acknowledged “the positive and passionate debate” Pichot brought to the campaign.

“It’s ignited constructive discussion about priorities that will strengthen the global game,” Beaumont added.

World Rugby originally planned to announce the result after a Council meeting on 12 May, a full two weeks after the electronic vote opened. This was in case a second round of voting was needed in the event of a tie.

Each member of World Rugby’s 51-person Council gets a vote, excluding the chairman, with 26 needed for a majority.

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