Kuala Lumpur: When AFC Champions League action resumes in a little over two weeks’ time, one man will be looking to achieve what no other player has done before: complete an AFC Champions League-UEFA Champions League double.
Having won an incredible four UEFA Champions League titles with Barcelona as part of what was arguably the greatest club side to ever play the game, Spanish midfielder Xavi Hernandez was a huge coup for Al Sadd when he joined in 2015.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup winner would have to wait almost three years to make his AFC Champions League bow, though, as defeats in the play-off round in 2016 to the United Arab Emirates' Al Jazira and Esteghlal of Islamic Republic of Iran a year later denied him the chance of appearing on Asia’s biggest stage.
However, success in the 2017 Emir Cup meant it was third time lucky for the Spaniard as 2011 AFC Champions League winners Al Sadd avoided the dreaded play-off round to advance directly to the group stage of the continental competition.
Unsurprisingly, Xavi was key to Al Sadd’s progression to their first quarter-final since 2014, with three assists and a goal, but with his contract expiring at the end of the 2017-18 Qatar Stars League campaign it seemed the 38-year-old may have missed his chance of a continental double.