Hleb: I behaved like a fool at Barcelona

Hleb: I behaved like a fool at Barcelona

Big things were expected of Alexander Hleb when he joined Barcelona in 2008 but he did not live up to those hopes and the player himself feels that only he was to blame for things not working out.

After shining under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal for three seasons, Barcelona paid 17 million euros to the Gunners for the Belarusian midfielder.

With Pep Guardiola taking over during the summer of his arrival, things seemed set for Hleb to form an exciting trident alongside Leo Messi and Thierry Henry, but it was not to be.

"It was totally my fault [for not succeeding at Barcelona], not Guardiola's," Hleb told EFE.

"He did everything possible to help me quickly adapt to the country and the group, and to learn the language.

"I myself behaved like a fool. The group was very good.

"I regret not learning to speak Spanish," he added.

Hleb won the treble in his first campaign but the fact that Guardiola didn't even call him up to the squad for the Champions League signified the end of his time.

"Guardiola is a great coach, but it is true that it was his debut [season] as a first-team coach.

"He wanted quick success. When eleven players are playing at a high level, you no longer want to make changes."

Nevertheless, Hleb relished his time at the Camp Nou, alongside some greats of the game.

"Training with those players was incredible, they were stars.

"[Xavi Hernandez] didn't make any mistakes. How is this possible?"

Now, at 38 years of age, Hleb is set to hang up his boots on a long and prestigious career.

"I had a great career," he stated.

"I made a couple of mistakes, but I have good memories from all the clubs.

"Barcelona were the best team in the world and, at Arsenal, I was very happy, although my biggest regret is not having played any major tournament with Belarus.

"Representing your country in a European Championship or a World Cup is a great honour," he stated.
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