catching up!

It’s really been forever since my last post, not counting the one yesterday about the Eurocopa preliminary list.  I’m sorry I haven’t had time to post, but I had been collecting bits and pieces from here and there over the last several months in anticipation of a post that I didn’t get around to, until today.  Will you accept Xabi Alonso modeling for Hugo Boss Fragrances as an apology?

More Xabi here.  By the way, my second post of this blog two years ago (this one is post #912!) was dedicated to Xabi and Hugo Boss (plus Cesc and David Villa).  Anyway, more perfect people inside the post…

Reactions.

Let’s start with the most recent news, the reactions of the players called up for the first or second time by Vicente del Bosque yesterday.

Beñat:  Beñat said he was quite surprised to find himself called up by VDB, saying the news was “great and unexpected.  It caught me by surprise.  I was in the Ciudad Deportiva receiving treatment because I woke up with some pain in my neck.  When I came out, I saw that I had received very many congratulatory messages, but I didn’t know what it was for.  Then the club called me and told me.”  He went on to day, “the truth is that it’s flattering for Vicente to speak of me like this and I still can’t believe it, it hasn’t sunk in yet.  It’s an enormous satisfaction for me to be there.”  Beñat also revealed that he had to make a change of plans: “I had planned for some vacation in June but there are no problems in telling my girlfriend that I’m not going on vacation.”

Ginés Meléndez, the coordinator of the youth categories of La Roja, had told Radio Sevilla earlier that when Beñat was 16, he was called up for the U-17 team.  However, as he hadn’t passed some classes in school, his parents made him stay at home to study, and he had to watch the games on TV.

Bruno: Bruno expressed his joy at returning to the national team, saying it helped to heal the blow caused by Villarreal’s relegation to the second division.  He said, “personally, the call-up is very important to me for everything that has happened this week.  I’ll still recovering from that blow, but it’s true that this call-up helped to raise my spirits.  I didn’t expect it, especially considering how the end of the Liga went.  I’m grateful that they continue counting on me, that they always help me.”  Bruno also revealed that he had kept an eye on the list, though he never imagined that VDB would say his name, and so he’s “very content and proud to return to the national team.”

Isco:  Isco also had no idea that he would be called up: “I had no idea, I was calm and this news came as a bit of a surprise.  I’m very proud.  Playing with the senior team is the dream of any player from the time that he is small.”

Javi García:  Javi García had a similar reaction to others, and the news also caught him by surprise: “to be sincere, I really didn’t expect it.  When I returned from training, I realized that many people had called me and that they were happy.  Then I realized I had been called up.  This is one of the happiest days of my life.”  Javi also tweeted, “Thank you to everyone!  It’s the happiest day of my life!  I thank my family, my girlfriend, my friends and Benfica for everything!  Now it’s time to fight and enjoy!  Hugs!”

The Atleti players: Juanfran, Adrián and Álvaro Domínguez found out the news of the call-up in Colombia, where they are playing in a friendly with their club.  Juanfran said he was excited and happy, as well as proud, in addition to being grateful to VDB.  Meanwhile, Adrián called it “a dream come true” and said he was “super” happy: “I believe that getting to the senior team is something that we all dream about, especially those who come from the youth categories.”  And Álvaro Domínguez said, “I’m very happy to receive this news and share this experience with two teammates.  It’s something great and I hope to enjoy it a lot.  You also have to take advantage of it because these things don’t often occur in life.”  By the way, VDB has not used an Atleti player since he became coach four years ago.

Captain things.

Puyi’s injury… on May 8, it was announced that a right knee injury would force Carles Puyol to undergo surgery, effectively preventing him from playing for at least six weeks and subsequently, the Eurocopa.  On May 9, he spoke at a press conference.  Puyi said, “I have it clear that I want to retire on the field and not in the operating room… I have to wait and see what the doctors find, but I believe it’s impossible to play in the Eurocopa.”  Showing why he’s one of the captains and most beloved players on this team, he said, “those who are the best are the ones who should go.  It would be unjust for other teammates for someone who’s not at 100 percent to go.  There are great centerbacks in Spain and so we don’t have to worry about this.  I’m placing my bets on La Roja.  We will be champions.”  Puyol was operated on two days later.  Via his twitter account, he informed everyone that the surgery went well.

Upon hearing of the injury, Vicente del Bosque told Marca that “Carles Puyol is a great boy, he called me yesterday night (May 7), but what can we do.  It’s a very, very important loss for us.  But more than whether it affects my plans or not is the fact that he’s a very charismatic and important boy, who’s about to reach 100 games with the team… it’s a shame.”  VDB also told AS that he hopes Puyol will be able to reach 100 games.

… and Iker’s reaction, plus the Tango 12.  Iker presented the Tango 12, the official ball of the Eurocopa, at the Ciudad de Fútbol on May 9, drawing aside a Spanish flag to reveal the ball next to the Eurocopa won by Spain in 2008.  There was a Q&A session at the event, during which Iker said, “seeing the ball and the Eurocopa together brings back good memories.  We all know how difficult it is to get to this decisive game which is the final of a Eurocopa and to win it.  I hope that everyone Vicente del Bosque calls up for the tournament can repeat what we achieved four years ago, and to relive these emotions that we lived.  Those were some magic days for all of us.”

When questioned about how Puyol’s injury will affect the team, Iker said, “I spoke with him yesterday for a bit.  He’s upset and sad, but he understands that he needed to stop or else his knee would stop responding.  I hope he recovers quickly.  It’s a very delicate loss for us and I agree with Del Bosque in that it’s a significant loss for us not only on the field, but also as a group.  He’s one of the captains along with Xavi and I, and we have a great relationship.  He’s very affable with others, he helps to unify the group a lot and he’s always watching over the other players, especially the young ones.”

More Iker: on March 15, Iker headed to Frankfurt to be unveiled as one of Hyundai’s ambassadors for the 2012 Eurocopa (Hyundai is one of the main sponsors of the tournament).  He was joined by Karim Benzema, Lukas Podolski, Giuseppe Rossi and Daniel Sturridge on “Team Hyundai.”  During the event, Iker said the following.

on Spain being the favorite: we have to accept that role and it’s logical for it to be like that.  All the other teams dream about dethroning us.  My goal is to win it once again.

on the effect of the clásicos on the national team: those games are isolated and put on the back burner… in the end we’re friends and everything can be fixed and forgotten by having a Coca Cola together.  This is because in addition to the interests of the clubs, we have an entire country behind us and what better way can to make it happy than by giving it another Eurocopa.  When the Eurocopa comes, we’ll forget everything in the past.

on his future with the national team: it’s true that during each training session, I demand more from myself because there are young players who are pressuring.  I continue to have the same hope that I had the first day and I want to win everything again with the national team.  I don’t feel that I’m the most important footballer in the history of Spain, but I do give myself a bit of credit, because since I broke out, 12 years ago, it’s true that Spanish clubs started paying more attention to Spanish goalkeepers, who are great.  I have it clear that this won’t be my last Eurocopa, unless the coach decides not to select me.  A goalkeeper can last for many years, but perhaps two more Euros will be complicated.

on Fernando Torres: people have forgotten quickly of all the important things he’s done for the national team.  They’re unjust with him and he’s earned the right to have more confidence in him.  Right now he’s not scoring goals but in the next two months he could score many goals.  Vicente has confidence in those who have responded, and that’s why he’s also waiting for Villa.

Team news.

Back in April, VDB revealed to “Al primer toque” that he had already renewed his contract to continue on as head coach of the Spanish national team.

La Roja will play a friendly in Puerto Rico on Aug. 15 at the Juan Ramón Loubriel in Bayamón.  The game will benefit an autism center there.  This will be the last time that La Roja plays the annual friendly in August, because FIFA has removed that date from the international calendar starting next year.

On April 24, we found out that the Spanish Olympic football team will face Japan on July 26 in Glasgow, Honduras on July 29 in Newcastle and Morocco on Aug. 1 in Manchester in the group stage of the tournament.

The team will be sporting attire from Italian firm Brooksfield during the Eurocopa.  The blazer looks like this.  Here are some of the boys getting fitted for that blazer earlier this year.

Player news.

On Father’s Day, Víctor Valdés posted this photo of him and his son Dylan, “la personita más bonita del mundo.”  How sweet!  Dylan looks more like his mom than his dad, no?

The official support song of La Roja for the Eurocopa is called “Showtime 2.0,” and it’s the work of Andrés Iniesta’s favorite group (and good friends) Estopa.  Unsurprisingly then, he helps to sing the chorus along with David Villa (whom we know also has an excellent voice) and Sergio Busquets.  Benefits from sales of the song will go to helping unemployed footballers and those at risk of social exclusion, via the AFE.

 

Pepe has lent his image to UNICEF’s campaign to stop infant mortality in Niger, and the premise of the campaign is that the situation is so dire that it has rendered even Pepe Reina speechless.  Watch the video here.

Several of our players feature in Cruzcampo’s newest promotion, where the beer company is giving away 100 tickets to see La Roja in Poland.  Fernando Torres, Cesc, Puyi, Sergio and PF Juan Mata appear in the new spot calling on fans to contribute all of their passion, excitement and spontaneity to help push Spain forward.

In a tie-in with this promotion, Cruzcampo has launched 43 million cans and 46 million bottles of their beer with Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Sergio, Andrés Iniesta and David Silva’s faces on them.

Via El Mundo, we found out the following on two of La Roja’s players based in England:  David Silva lives in Wilmslow, a small suburb of Manchester, with his father, his cousin and his girlfriend.  He doesn’t like to go out at night, and loves the Spanish restaurants El Rincón de Rafa in Manchester and Anguillo in Wilmslow.  He says that in England, he became a fan of eating apple porridge.

Fernando Torres lives in the county of Surrey with wife Olalla, their two children and two bulldogs, whom he walks every day.  Torres prefers to spend nights at home with his family, playing Monopoly, watching TV and enjoying his kids.

There was an article on dreams (the kind at night, not aspirations in life) in El País Semanal back in April, and they had various celebrities telling what dreams they had recently.  This is Iker Muniain’s: “the last dream that I remember clearly was one in which I went to a training center for astronauts.  It was a very pleasant dream, although it started out badly because I had to pass some very tough physical tests: push-ups, jumping, the shouts of an instructor with very little tact… the worst moment was when I had to put on the top of the spacesuit.  I thought I wouldn’t be able to take it off and I would began to suffocate, like in the movies.  However, once I saw myself with the helmet on top of my shoulders, the dream changed.  I seemed to spend an eternity floating, with a strange and unknown sensation of tranquility from roaming around space.”  Jajaja!  And here are some adorable images of Iker with David de Gea when their clubs played against other in the Europa League.

Who else was there?  Javi (!!!)!  He posted this video advertising a rural country house in Ayegui, the Casa Aguinaga (must belong to his mother’s family) a couple of months ago, but I have to tell you, reader Jen stumbled across it way before that and alerted me to it.  If I remember correctly, we were both hoping that Javi (!!!) would be included with the rental, since he does appear in the video, along with all the furniture and other things.

(I was making gifs and so I thought I’d make these two…)

And since there’s a gif of Fernando Llorente, here’s a little anecdote from Paloma Antoranz, whose job I want (she’s head of press for the national team).  Paloma recalls that as she was watching the celebration of the players in Soccer City after Spain had won the World Cup, suddenly she felt her feet leaving the ground and found herself flying.  Fernando Llorente had snuck up behind her and launched her into the air: “I didn’t know what was happening.  I had such a funny expression on my face that those who were near by, such as Miguel Gutiérrez, fell over laughing.  At least Fernando caught me so that I didn’t fall!”

There’s another anecdote involving Andrés Iniesta and Gerard Piqué.  While Paloma was waiting in the mixed zone for the players to stop celebrating and come speak with the press, Andrés and Gerard came up to her, and asked her for her help.  Andrés wanted a piece of the field as a souvenir, while Piqué wanted to go home with a piece of the net.  Thus, Paloma had to look for a stadium official to go with them.  Andrés ended up digging up a piece of the field near the goal, while Piqué got his little piece of the net (actually, he wanted the whole thing but he was stopped from doing that).

P.S. Check out Gustaff Choos’ portrait of Fer!

A little PF Juan Mata…

Back in March, Punto Pelota’s Irene Junquera traveled to London, and got to interview PF.  Juanín appeared looking very dapper in a tuxedo, and told Irene that he’s very happy with his life in London, as everything has gone well.  We also get to hear the anecdote about how he had to stand on a chair and sing a song – he chose “La Macarena” – as a hazing ritual, although he didn’t do the movements.  The last time Irene visited him (in Valencia), she found his freezer full of Tupperware containers, which his mother had prepared.  Juan tells her that he’s still not cooking, since he can eat at the training grounds.  What else does he do there?  He takes English classes every day with Oriol Romeu!  Oriol lives in the same building, and so they’ve gotten very close, with Juan admitting that Oriol’s his de facto partner (“pareja de hecho”) in London.

And reader Lori found this great interview with PF from Panenka magazine.  Here are the highlights.

Have you had many problems with the language, understanding the referees, teammates or rivals?

No, not many. When I arrived it wasn’t too difficult to understand if people didn’t speak too quickly. It was harder for me to express myself. With my teammates, everything was fine, but of course if Terry and Lampard start speaking between themselves, it’s complicated, with their thick accents sometimes it’s hard to understand half the conversation. But that’s like if an Englishman goes to Asturias and hears me talk to a friend, no? Also, in the dressing room we have Iván, a physio from Galicia, and the head of the medical team is Paco Biosca. Eva Carneiro, the first team doctor, also speaks Spanish. The boss [Villas-Boas] gives the general instructions in English, but if something needs to be cleared up later he normally talks to me in Spanish. He talks five languages. The club also offers us additional classes.

Is living in London as attractive as it seems?

Yes, because it’s like there’s lots of cities within the city. When I got here I was given “Historias de Londres” [by the journalist Enric González], and that was a great guide. There’s lots of interesting areas and still more for me to discover. I like to walk through King’s Road, one of the most famous streets in Chelsea. I’ve experienced the hustle of Oxford Street, and I’ve also been to Camden and Portobello. In Covent Garden I especially like the Seven Dials pillar, it’s like a small oasis in the middle of the city. I also went to the National Gallery recently. It seems like the East End and Brick Lane are fashionable now, or ‘trendy’ like they say here, the bohemian area, with lots of vintage clothes shops and lots of artists, writers, etc. live there. I also like the city of Oxford, I went there with my family and it’s true that you can feel a strong university atmosphere. I don’t normally use a car in London, because you get the impression that the city isn’t made for cars, so I get the tube. At first, when I was looking for an apartment, I wasn’t sure whether to go to the outskirts, near Cobham, or the city… I chose the city. The players that have children normally live on the outskirts, in houses with gardens. I drive to Cobham every day, it’s a half-hour commute, but I’m used to driving on the left hand side now. The worst thing was the roundabouts, but I’ve got it under control now.

What do you make of the famous English food?

Well, I normally eat at Chelsea’s facilities, and we have everything there: pasta, salad, meat, fish. As if I was still in Spain. I do go out for dinner sometimes. In London there’s a huge variety. I like Asian and Italian food, and I’ve just discovered a restaurant, “Ibérica”, with very nice Asturian products, which I’m a fan of. But my grandmother’s fabada [a typical Asturian dish] is still unbeatable!

Maybe the Olympics will help ease the economic crisis which is hitting Europe so badly, especially Spain. It’s always been said that footballers live in their own world. Even now?

I follow everything that happens in Spain very closely. I speak to my family and also see lots of things on Twitter, and unfortunately, it’s almost all bad news. I’ve seen the unemployment problems quite closely because I have several friends who have come to London to start a new life here, because they don’t have any opportunities in Spain. They come here to at least learn English, and try to rebuild their lives piece by piece.

You still study as well as football. Just in case?

I always knew there was no reason to stop studying, even though I went to Real Madrid when I was just a boy. Now I’m studying INEF [Physical Education] and Marketing via a long distance course with the Camilo José Cela University, in Madrid. I like it, it’s basically a Physical Education course, but with several classes dedicated to sports marketing in the final years. I’m between the third and fourth year and I make sure I find time to study, even though from London it’s a bit more difficult, because the schedule is much more demanding here than in Spain, with more competitions. A tutor is helping me prepare for my exams. Even though it’s a bit harder, I hope to finish the course soon. There’s no reason not to.

How’s your life outside of football and university?

I suppose like any other guy my age. I don’t know, I like football a lot and I like to be up to date with everything that happens in Spain. Every week I check out the Oviedo result, of course. Outside of football, I like Murakami’s books, they have a slightly strange atmosphere, but they draw you in. I’ve also read Paul Auster and Jorge Luis Borges and I liked them. I follow a few TV series’ as well, especially The Sopranos, Mad Men and Californication, but the one I like most is Entourage. I love Johnny Drama and Ari Gold! I listen to all sorts of music, but if I had to say one group, my favorite would be Coldplay.

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Posted on May 16, 2012, in campaigns, interviews, players, team and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Thank you sooo much for this post Una!! It’s been a while. Thank you thank you!! :)

  2. What an awesome post. I especially love the GQ Xabi and the Cruzcampo six pack. How can I get some of that?

  3. Thanks for the update Una. Can’t believe the Eurocup is a month away. It seems like just yesterday they won it! PF Mata is so cute. Fingers still crossed that Villa can make it..com

  4. apology totally accepted;-)

    great post, I cannot wait to the games!thanks!

  5. It’s so nice to see Xabi back with Hugo Boss.
    I actually really want a six pack of those beers but they’re impossible to get over here in North America :(
    I also love how quickly Juanin has picked up English. Fernando has three years on him and their proficiency is almost the same, though Fer’s accent is a tiny bit better. (Kudos to him though, he had to learn from the Scouse!)

    Aaaah, I’m getting so excited for the Eurocopa now, only a few more days!

  6. I’m so pround of Benat!!!!! Very well deserved for the beardy little midfield maestro.

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