los secretos – the rest of the book
Let’s finish Los secretos de la roja so we can move on to El mundo en nuestras manos! The fun anecdotes and stories from the last four chapters of the book are your advent gift for today.
The boys and their pregame rituals
- Iker used to cut off inches off the sleeves and bottom of his shirt, and the utilleros would help him put on the captain’s armband, because it was difficult to do with gloves. Puyol always has to enter the field on his right foot and can never step on the lines, including while the game is in play. He always folds his socks inward, while Xavi does the opposite.
- Villa has worn the same shinguards since he was 18 because he believes they bring him luck. Piqué always warms up without shinguards and he puts them on right before he goes onto the field. He always enters the field on his right foot. Sergio Ramos always puts on his right boot first and enters the field on his left foot.
- Cesc usually kisses a ring that his girlfriend gave him four times, and Senna always prays before the game, asking for protection for him and for his teammates, that none of them will get injured. Marchena likes to look in the mirror before going out onto the field “to see if I’m sufficiently motivated or not.” Silva and Mata prefer to enter the field on their left foot.
- for a while, Güiza had to eat Oreos before games, and even sent the utilleros to the supermarket if he forgot. He also would wear a shirt with the image of the Cristo de los gitanos and the Virgen del Valle on the front to sleep on nights before games.
- Reina and Capdevila are the most maniacal. Pepe likes to be the last one off the bus, he always gets dressed in the same way, he makes the sign of the cross when the referee signals the end of the game, he sits at the same place on the bench for luck. As for Joan, he does everything on the left first: the bandage, the shinguard, the sock, the boot… He enters the field on his left foot and has to jump three times. He ties his shoes when he’s already on the field. He also has to shower before games and listen to the same song, Nirvana’s “All Apologies.”
- and during the national anthem, Sergio Ramos usually looks at the sky, looking for inspiration, and Joan will caress the ear of the players next to him. Silva: “Whoever is next to him is in danger. It’s hard to keep from laughing…”
The one and only Joan Capdevila, during games
- a game is going on and the ball goes out of bounds. Capdevila uses the stop in play to go up to Xavi and say, “Pelopo, I’m going to pass you the ball and under no circumstances are you to return it to me…” Xavi can’t help but laugh: “I try not to laugh because you realize the cameras are on you and people might think you’re crazy, but sometimes it’s impossible not to…”
- during a game, Cazorla began to hear someone calling his name. He ignored it, because his focus was on the ball. However, the voice kept persisting, until Santi turned around and confronted the voice and asked what he wanted. The reply was, “nothing, just that tonight I’m going to beat you at Play!”
- sometimes, instead of cheering up a teammate after a bad pass, Joan will make fun of him instead. According to Marcos Senna, “imagine that you are playing an important game and you send a ball into the stands. Joan is capable of coming up to you and saying, ‘what a shitty kick!’ He’s like that. In the beginning, I wasn’t used to it, but now I see it as something normal.”
- even free kicks aren’t immune from Capdevila’s humor. Normally, Xavi or Villa will take them, but sometimes Capdevila would ask for a shot. Senna: “sometimes when el Guaje and Villa are talking to see who will take it, Capdevila will come running from the back shouting, ‘I see it! I see it! I see it! I see it! Get out!’ And so sometimes seeing him so convinced that he would make it, they let him take it. But if the kick ends up off target, we start making fun of him.” Xavi adds, “in all seriousness, Joan’s not bad at taking free kicks.”
- one time, in the game against Denmark at the Bernabéu, Villa received a pass from Joan, but it was about one meter too short. However, he was still able to get past a defender, run forward and beat the goalkeeper. In the celebration, “when he came up to hug me and congratulate me, he said, ‘I gave you a great pass and all you had to do was nudge the ball in.’ A few days later, Torres and I cut out the headline of an interview that said, ‘Having forwards like Villa and Torres converts a bad pass into great one’ and gave it to him.”
- Joan has also infected Xavi, because one time Villa lost control of the ball and so he said to him, “very good, Guaje, good!” And Villa turned around and answered, “you’re a bastard.”
The antithesis of Capdevila on the field is Carles Puyol
- Xavi: “Puyol is unbearable on the field. He concentrates for all 90 minutes and doesn’t stop for a second with ‘Pelopo, watch your back!’ and things like that. He doesn’t rest. Sometimes I think, ‘poor Piqué’ because he’s stuck next to Puyol and is forced endure his screaming.”
- Piqué: “there was one game in which we were winning 4-0. When the ball went out of bounds, he started yelling at me. He told me that my head wasn’t in the game. I replied that there were only five minutes left, but it was useless… Puyi teaches you to give everything you have until the referee blows the whistle.”
Xavi is the leader and the axis around which the team turns
- this is how Xavi learned of his importance on the team. In the Eurocopa, Aragonés substituted him against Italy in the 60th minute and against Russia in the 70th minute, in the semifinal game. Xavi: “I spoke a lot with Luis, but in this case he didn’t say anything to me and I had to go talk to him. I thought, ‘Joder, is he upset with me?’ In the game against Russia, we were winning 3-0 and I was having a great time but he subbed me out again. So I decided to talk to him.” Aragonés told him right then and there that he was his “number one.”
And some random anecdotes
- in 2006, Luis Aragonés asked the RFEF to incorporate Dr. Jorge Candel, a nutrition specialist, into the team. Candel sat down with Javier Arbizu and changed the menu. He got rid of the rolls and sweets for breakfast, french fries, animal fat, butter, egg yolks, whole milk… For salads, that meant no more eggs, onions, peppers, cucumbers and olives, leaving only lettuce, tomato and corn. Candel also got rid of appetizers and the minibars in hotel rooms. Juanito’s reaction: “in the Eurocopa, Sergio Ramos and I made a bet to see who would lose the most weight. I started out at 80 kg and returned with 77… no matter how much you ate, you couldn’t gain weight.” The players started calling Dr. Candel “Doctor Hambre” (Dr. Hunger). Candel was replaced by Dr. Celada in August 2008.
- prior to the Spain-U.S. game in the Confederations Cup semis in 2009, Joan Capdevila received a text message saying, “be careful with us.” The sender was Jozy Altidore, the American forward who had played with Villarreal. Joan joked at a press conference, “he must have been mistaken because he doesn’t know a lot of Spanish.” Unfortunately for Joan, Altidore ended up scoring in that game, after he (Joan) made a defensive mistake.
- Spain of course ended up losing that game, and the players were of course upset. But then the captains stepped up. Juan Mata: “we arrived in the locker room with our heads down, because we had seen the final as a clear and close objective. Iker, Xavi and Puyol immediately started telling us that this defeat could make us better, to help us learn and be realistic.”
- before the 2008 Eurocopa final against Germany, according to Miguel Gutiérrez, “David Villa was so concerned about the final that he told us not to waste time treating him and to take care of and massage those who were going to play against Germany. We really appreciated his gesture.”
Have a great weekend!
Posted on December 17, 2010, in secretos and tagged capdevila, cazorla, cesc, güiza, iker, juanito, marchena, mata, pepe, piqué, puyol, senna, sergio, silva, villa, xavi. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.