I cannot wait for this!
The big secret has been revealed, and it’s a book by Pepe Reina!
El mundo en nuestras manos: así fuimos campeones (The World In Our Hands: how we became champions) looks to be a Los Secretos for the World Cup, because in it Pepe talks all about the key moments the team went through in the tournament, including the jokes, the experiences, the fun moments, his observations from his seat on the bus, the values and the virtues.
In it, Pepe also answers the questions:
– how could a croissant be important towards winning a World Cup?
– who asked for advice on how to play in a semifinal right after the opening whistle?
– what was the first thing that came to mind right after winning the World Cup?
The prologue is written by Iker Casillas, and the epilogue by Víctor Valdés.
The book will be released on Nov. 16. I cannot wait, I’m going to snatch it up as soon as it comes out!
Keep reading for Iker’s prologue…
Thank you to Pepe Reina for inviting me to participate in this book. It allowed me to remember the road we took to becoming world champions. It’s true that we won and fulfilled expectations, but it wasn’t easy at all. On the collective level, there were many eyes upon us, even though we had never won the World Cup.
On the personal level, the World Cup reaffirmed for me something that I had always believed, and that I will continue believing: in the end, people will receive their just rewards. If you do things well, you’ll have it. It’s all summarized in the end of this story.
The end of this story has nothing to do with what happened in the 2008 Eurocopa. We all have our memories, our experiences from the Euro, but now, I have to say that a great friend of mine who was my teammate at Real Madrid was right. Fabio Cannavaro told me that the Eurocopa was great, but when you win “la Bambina,” as he called it, it’s different. And it’s true. It’s completely different. One has nothing to do with the other. You forget about everything else. And you only remember that moment. That instant.
There, in Johannesburg, the celebration was very cool [as in dispassionate]. There were only about 4,000 to 5,000 Spaniards in the stands, and everything happened very quickly. And then having to take a 11-hour flight to return to Spain allowed us to only realize when we arrived what we had achieved. In South Africa, we were conscious of it, although some of us were still incredulous. We could only sense what we achieved if we thought about what happened with the Eurocopa. But everything was different, very different.
The road to arriving to that instant on July 12 at the Manzanares was very intense. I thought the start was very good, despite the fact that we began by losing to Switzerland. Maybe it happened for a reason. It was fabulous for us and it was a point of inflection for us. It was the first moment of adversity in two years and made us stronger.
We absorbed a lot of criticism. In my opinion, a disproportionate amount. From then on, the team began playing how we had in previous months and reminding people that we had come into the World Cup by winning the first 10 qualifying games.
We overcame two struggles with a lot of suffering, those against Honduras and Chile. They didn’t seem like complicated teams, especially Honduras, since the Chileans had a brilliant qualifying stage. They were two teams that weren’t well-known. But we passed that stage. Against Chile, we began to have luck. We won by the minimum and became leaders of the group. In the beginning, it was thought that we would achieve that easily, but in the end, we suffered to get there.
From that point on, as you all know, the road became smoother. Those who cruelly criticized us during those first few days didn’t say anything else. It’s clear that in journalism, a lot of people speak, but then hide. What is said at a certain point will be forgotten two months later.
In my case, after everything that was said, I limited myself to another thing. To do my job, which is to stop the ball. To try and help the team. To be one more on a team that didn’t have individuality. Each one had done his part to help the team win. That was the only important thing.
That was shown by those who played the least this World Cup. Everyone played a part, and how so! Such as Pepe Reina. He’s a very important person on this team. I often put myself in his shoes and I realize that it’s not easy. You’re the starter on your team. You have seasons like the ones you’ve had with Liverpool, when you’re the least scored-upon goalkeeper four times in fives seasons. And then later on, with the national team, you don’t get any minutes. It’s complicated. I don’t know if I would have accepted it as well as he has.
In this day, the word “teammate” is cast aside, because it has become “friend.” He’s always wanted to help his team and help each player. He comes to you to give advice, to tell you things, to share whatever there is. And this “whatever” was key to getting into the semifinals. Without his contribution, I wouldn’t have stopped the penalty against Paraguay.
That day, before playing the quarterfinals, whether it was a coincidence or not, he sat down next to me and told me how Cardozo would take a penalty. Sometimes you can sense it or get some hints. But it wasn’t like that. As he said, in the end, it’s the one under the posts who has to decide which way to move, although it’s clear that everything helps. And the help that you can give to your teammate is always great.
Because I meant it and I felt like it, I wanted to thank him in public and in private for his assistance in helping us get to the semis against Germany. A private message is also important. You can’t just thank him publicly or in front of all your teammates. You have to do it personally. He deserved it. Pepe’s on the road to becoming a coach. He reads football very well and he likes to watch as many games as possible. He loves this sport, and it shows.
Having Pepe is like having life insurance, like having the goal so covered as Spain does. I’m not going to talk about me, but rather my two teammates under the posts in this World Cup, with their permission. I don’t have any doubts that they’re among the best goalkeepers in the world. Víctor Valdés has had magnificent seasons with FC Barcelona. Sensational. And Pepe Reina, the same. The problem comes when the standard is so high. If your standard goes down, then you’re not counted on anymore. These two great goalkeepers were great competition for me. That made it so that no one could slack off.
[Some talk about the large number of great Spanish goalkeepers.]
But since we’re talking about the World Cup, let me honor those who achieved this title. I can’t name any one in particular, since I’m left with all the memories that I’ve had with these teammates. We’ve been together for many years already, and for me it’s not about what we won and went through in the World Cup, but about this continuing. It’s very easy for any player on this team to leave the team, since he’s won the Eurocopa or the World Cup, because there’s nothing else left to achieve. It could be Xavi, Puyol, Cesc, Iniesta or even me. What else is there to aspire to? It’s true that you can win another title, but we’ve already won all the competitions. But no. We’re all continuing here.
Puyi had doubts. We all told him that this was a team that could win the Eurocopa. We didn’t say we would win it, since you could have a bad day and find yourself kicked out. The good thing is that this team is already formed, and it’s time to defend the title.
Another key thing about this group is that we have fun when we’re together. We have fun, and a lot of it. It’s obvious in the day-to-day life. Before, in the training camps, there were tedious days. When I arrived, eight years ago, they were hard. One disappointment after another. Everyone coming home from the 2002 World Cup with their heads down. The Eurocopa in Portugal in 2004. Another disappointment. Germany 2006, eliminated in the quarterfinals. Now, everything has changed so much that I look forward to getting together with the national team. I think I speak for everyone. I’m going to stick my head out: I assure you all that we we’re called up, everyone is happy to go.
The good atmosphere is noted in anecdotes like the one of the croissant. It was the silliest thing that happened to us. It started out with three or four of us. Nothing more. We were playing a game of pocha, and behind the doctor’s back, since he was starving us, we asked for colacao and some croissants, and from that point on, we began to win. It was against England in Manchester. We had just had two bad results, against Romania and Sweden, and everyone wanted to kill us. And that’s how it happened. And since that point, there hasn’t been one day where we haven’t done differently. Only Busquets broke that tradition once. But we still let him come in (without letting him eat, though).
In the concentración, there is a lot of time. And you need for the atmosphere to be good and fun so that it’s positive for everyone. Some use the time to play cards or bingo, to take a walk or play a Play tournament. Normal things. We’re showing that with a lot of normality and naturalness, we achieved in football what this country has never achieved.
Lastly, I want to share a desire and a hope. I hope and desire that what happened with other teams, such as France, will never happen to us. They won the Eurocopa and the World Cup ten years ago, like Spain has just done. It would disappoint me for people to end up insulting and blaming each other because we don’t get past the quarterfinals, the round of 16 or the group stage. This happens in stages, and right now we’re in the best. I hope everyone enjoys it. Nothing is simple, and you don’t win a World Cup every year.
After translating that, I now have a un dolor de cabeza que no puedo ya conmigo!