With regular penalty taker Leo Messi out of the game due to injury, Barcelona captain Xavi stepped up the spot to convert an 89th-minute penalty that put his side up 2-1 on PSG in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. After scoring, Xavi immediately began patting his head -- a manner of celebrating that might have seemed unusual, but actually served as a means of communication to a 10-year-old back in Barcelona.
A few weeks ago to mark World Cancer Day, a local radio station produced a programme about children fighting the disease and spoke to a number of them at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and the Casa dels Xuklis. Miquel was one of them – he’s been fighting leukaemia since he was three and was of his main wishes was to meet Xavi. Having heard the programme, Xavi later visited the hospital to present the youngster with a signed shirt and make him two promises: when you are cured, I’ll take you to a Barça training session and if I score against Milan, I’ll dedicate it to you by rubbing my head. He didn’t score against the Italians, but when he scored the penalty in Paris, he kept his promise to Miquel and dedicated the goal to him.
Making the moment even more special (before PSG eventually made it 2-2 in the final moments of injury time) was the fact that, according to Barca's website, it was also the first penalty Xavi has taken for Barcelona in over 500 appearances across 15 years with the club. Though he had to wait a while for that moment, he did a good job of making the most of it.