I thought I would use Sergio Ramos’ abs and that tattoo to catch your attention, before moving onto other things (the rest of Sergio’s stellar appearance in Men’s Health España can be found here, if you haven’t seen it already). If you can tear your eyes away from that body, you’ll find interviews with Andrés Iniesta, Jordi Alba, Iker & Xavi (and Xavi by himself too) and Pepe Reina, plus a bit of Santi Cazorla and bonus Javi Martínez!
Andrés Iniesta at El Mundo.
El Mundo interviewed Andrés a couple of months ago coinciding with the release of the Spanish version of The Pirates! Band of Misfits (¡Piratas!). The interview was done in his bodega, and it was pretty cute.
How was it giving a voice to the Albino Pirate?
It was a great experience, interesting and different from what I normally do. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and very happy with the final result: it’s a very enjoyable movie, although it also has sad parts.
You brought life to an animated character. Up to what point are you an animated person?
I believe I’m animated with those around me, with the people that I have confidence in and who know me as I am.
I was going to ask if you identified with the character for the color of his skin, but you’re tanner than I expected.
(Jokingly) Well, it’s still winter for him, summer hasn’t come yet and so he’s that white.
What do you have in common with him?
Above all, I identify with the character as he has many values that I also believe are necessary for life: team spirit, loyalty to the captain, team work… in addition, he’s also a bit shy and skeptical with all that surrounds him.
How was the dubbing process?
It took two days, many hours, with many people helping me with my enunciation. In the beginning, it was difficult but once I got started, I felt good. I know that things are going well when it feels easy and natural.
During one scene, your character shouts, “¡Viva Fuentealbilla!” Was that your idea?
I just went along with what they told me and now it’s part of the movie. I didn’t want it to be too noticeable, so that I wouldn’t have more protagonism than necessary. They told me that you could hardly hear it, but in the end they tricked me (laughs).
Did Valeria recognize your voice?
She hasn’t seen it, she’s still too small for that type of thing.
Is there anyone who doesn’t like you? Even Stekelenburg, the Dutch goalkeeper that you scored on during the final of the World Cup, doesn’t hold any grudges against you.
I’m aware that people have a lot of affection for me, for how I am and what I do. I am grateful for this affection and I’ve said that many times. But I’m sure there are people who don’t like me.
I doubt that.
Not even God was able to make the entire world agree, so it’s impossible for me to do so.
Would you have liked to take a penalty against Portugal during the past Eurocopa?
What happened with Sara could happen to anyone. I don’t think there are exceptions. Who hasn’t been in a similar situation? What happened is that it occurred during a live broadcast.
And would you have liked to score during the Eurocopa final?
I would have loved to score. But not to experience what I did in the World Cup, but because I really wanted to score and because goals are things that help the team. It wasn’t meant to be, but I’m happy with how everything went, on the team level and on the personal level.
Would you change that goal against the Netherlands for anything?
I’m sure there are many things that are more important, but in the end everything is the consequence of an accumulation of incidents. In other words, when something goes well, it’s because there are the circumstances that allow things to go well. It’s the same when things go badly.
Would you have liked to win the final against Germany, instead of Italy?
No, no. I’m happy that Spain was the champion. When you get to a final, the rival is the part you’re least concerned about. The important thing is to be in the final and to achieve something unique, something historic.
Did you cry over the failures of the national team when you were a kid?
Yes. For the failures of the national team and those of my team. And now as well. When you lose something important or there are difficult situations, such as injuries, you cry. Football is all about feelings and strong emotions.
What life lesson have you learned from being part of the national team?
We’re a group of people who have known each other for a long time. The only thing that we try to do is to have team spirit, to have respect for each other and to do the best we can for the common good. This is a team sport and we need our teammates.
Jordi Alba at El Mundo Magazine.
At the age of four, Jordi Alba decided he wanted to become a footballer, and football gave in to his desire, although it didn’t make the road easy. He passed through La Masía and the lower categories of Barcelona, where he was forced out in 2005. His mental strength allowed him to overcome this and other setbacks, and probably made him different than the hundreds of other boys who experience the same mixture of frustration and uncertainty. After playing in UE Cornellà, he went onto Valencia and Gimnàstic de Tarragona and back to Valencia. By the time the 2012 Eurocopa came around, Del Bosque had already called him up 10 times. Since then, he has returned to Barcelona. At the age of 23, he maintains an unusually strong bond with his parents. He says they’re the ones that keep him on the right path.
Jordi, many people discovered you in the Eurocopa. Is there a Jordi Alba before the tournament and another one after it?
Yes, something has changed. Perhaps it’s the confidence that others now have in me, which is due to all the teammates I’ve had during the course of my career who have given this confidence, this serenity to me… that helps you to make decisions, and in my case, it gave me the guarantee to continue developing my game. But it is also many years of hard work and evolution. In addition, playing for the national team is very motivating.
Is there more motivation when you wear your country’s shirt than that of your club?
I believe a footballer has to be honest with himself and with his circumstances, and I fight to the death for the shirt I wear, whichever one it is. It’s very satisfying to make others happy like this when things aren’t going well, but I don’t think I’m more motivated when I put on the shirt of the national team.
Is it different playing now during a time of crisis?
Yes, in delicate moments like this one, football plays a special role, because it allows everyone to disconnect. It’s exciting to see a country united for a team. The Eurocopa was a joy for the entire country. And it’s also fantastic when people thank you for that.
We weren’t so successful in the Olympic Games…
The first game didn’t go as we expected, it was complicated by the expulsion… but in the second and third games, I believed we were superior, although we lacked luck. There was desire, hope, a spirit of overcoming, a united group, but sometimes the circumstances and the rival, which also has something to play for, make it difficult for things to turn out as you would like.
Could the fact that the players had just finished a grueling season been a factor?
I love football, and I’m used to making an effort, and if I’m called up to play a tournament, I feel privileged. We have more than enough vacation time! Now, the Liga is starting. People are surprised that I want to start playing again, but it’s like that.
Which is more tiring: playing in the Liga, the Eurocopa and the Olympic Games, or addressing the media?
(Laughs) That’s part of football, we all have to do it, we play and it’s clear that the press has to report, we’re all part of the same circus.
Tell me about your beginnings. When you were young, did you say that you wanted to become a footballer?
I began playing at the age of four, my family loves football, my brother David also started at a young age, and then he turned to fustal [he now plays for AE Bellsport de Hospitalet]. The presents I received were always balls, and when asked, I said I wanted to be a footballer. Everyone told me to get that out of my head, but I didn’t. It was always my dream.
Did you ever live at La Masía?
I played there, but I would go there and return home, I never lived there. Then I went to Cornellà, and when I was 18, to Valencia. I had to give up a lot, since you can’t go out at night… There are many things that you did that you had to give up at that moment. That’s the tough part about football, the part that people perhaps don’t know about. There are many great things that other people would like, but at the same time it also requires a lot of sacrifice, you have to give up a lot… but I know we’re privileged. Then I went to Nàstic, and that’s where I learned how to coexist in a locker room.
Is knowing how to do that what makes a difference between a good player and one who is not?
It’s clear that you can’t compare the locker room of a third division team with that of a second division team. There are more requirements, more professionalism, more responsibility, and the young guys like me have to adapt to these changes very quickly. You achieve that by learning how to coexist with your teammates and getting to know the veterans.
Your curriculum – Barcelona, Cornellà and Valencia – is very Mediterranean. You must like paella.
Yes, I like paella (laughs) although I can’t eat very much of it. Pasta, salad… I watch what I eat. My parents love cooking, and when I go home, they make me lentils, stew… there’s no place like home for good food. I hope it will always be like that.
You appear to be very close to your family. Have you considered moving in with your parents since you’re now returning to Barcelona?
I’m very content. When I was in Valencia, I missed my parents, so now I want to take advantage of the opportunity and live with them for as long as I can. They’re a great support for me on the personal level. I believe those around you influence your development as a footballer, and your parents can play a fundamental role, to ensure that you don’t go astray.
Go astray? What are you referring to?
Well, they can watch over you to make sure you’re on the right path and that you’re surrounded by appropriate people… the company a footballer keeps can be decisive in his life.
Did they ever pressure you to play football?
Never. In addition, they made sure that I did other things as well, so that I wouldn’t neglect other aspects of my life. But they’ve always supported my career. Seventeen members of my family went to Ukraine. They were close, and I could see them. They have suffered with me, so when they’re happy, I’m also happy. For me, they’re the most important thing.
The Eurocopa was decisive for you, and you were unanimously named one of the surprises of the tournament. What are your thoughts on that?
I’m happy. I’m happy and also grateful, especially to Valencia, for giving me the opportunity to play in the first division.
It wasn’t an easy road for you. How did you manage to make it?
For me, mental strength has been very important. I’ve gone through many rough patches, and to get here I had to overcome many difficulties, and being mentally strong helped me a lot. I don’t think I would have made it without it. And humility and hard work, plus keeping an eye on the people around you.
Were there any especially difficult moments?
I’ve gone through many rough patches, but you forget about them… you have disasters, all players do. I’ve been content on all the teams I’ve played for.
You’ve often said that David Villa is one of your favorite persons on the national team. Is it important to have friends inside the locker room?
Yes… it’s important to have people who take care of you when you first get there, and their support could be key to your development as a player. I met Villa when we played together in Valencia. He was already on the national team and I was still a youth player. He’s affectionate, humble, and above all, thoughtful with others, including those who aren’t as important as him. He’s a good person.
How do you think your teammates view you?
I don’t know… well, I believe as a happy, affectionate, nice person.
Off the field, can you forget about the ball?
I can, I need to, in fact. I like to spend time with my friends, play Play, go to the movies (although I prefer TV series, especially La que se avecina), play card games, chess. I also like flamenco, rumba, Estopa, Antonio Orozco… but I prefer to listen to music, I don’t like dancing.
What type of books do you like?
I just read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I like novels, as well as self-help books, and football books, although perhaps reading is not my favorite pastime.
There is a stereotype that says footballers don’t like to read and aren’t good students…
Well, I already said reading isn’t one of my favorite pastimes (laughs), but I was always a good student. I passed everything until the first year of the Bachillerato, and when I went to Valencia I was in the second year, but I had to give it up. Things began happening quickly for me, and I couldn’t handle everything. In addition, a footballer’s life lasts until you’re 34 or 35… that’s why I believe you have to have other things in mind. And I believe I’m capable of studying. I would like to learn and continue to stay linked to football, at least.
Can you go to the movies and walk around Hospitalet normally?
I could until I was 18, since not many people knew me, but now it’s complicated. I still try to lead the same life as before, to see my friends… I try to go on vacation with them, although it’s difficult to find dates when everyone is free, and also with my family, whenever I can.
Iker and Xavi at XL Semanal.
Iker and Xavi were honored for jointly winning the Príncipe de Asturias Award for sports, and so course they had to talk about each other.
Xavi responds, “it’s because Iker is very annoying” when we tell him that we have to repeat the photo session because Iker wasn’t satisfied with the result, although he adds, “I say that with affection.” During the course of the interview, Xavi also says of Iker, “he’s an amazing guy, humble, a great professional, he’s agreeable, he makes you feel good…and he’s also very stubborn, but that can also be a virtue. We’re like a married couple, once in a while there are discussions and after that, everything is forgotten.”
Iker responds, “we’ve been friends since we were 16! He’s a noble person, loyal to his values and his ideas.” When asked to name a defect, he thinks and says, “Xavi’s only defect is that he gets upset easily, especially when it has to do with Barça.”
We also get a few facts about the boys.
IKER. ONE. His father was sent to work in País Vasco when his mother was pregnant. Although he was born in Madrid, he was called Iker due to the family’s time in Euskadi. TWO. He’s the only goalkeeper to be chosen as the best in the world for four consecutive years by the IFFHS. He’s the only footballer in history to have won 100 games with his national team. THREE. His main addiction is card games. He just won the championship along with his cousin at his favorite restaurant in Boadilla (El Acebo). FOUR. He’s known to play Manolo Escobar songs, although he also likes El Canto del Loco and Amaral. FIVE. He has a lifelong contract with Real Madrid, which is automatically renewed whenever he plays at least 30 games a season.
XAVI. ONE. His number one nickname is Pelopo, but his teammates also call him Máquina. He has a boat called Pelopina. TWO. His father was a footballer from Andalucía who emigrated to Cataluña to play for Sabadell. THREE. Throughout his childhood, many coaches ruled him out due to his short stature. FOUR. One year ago, he broke up with his childhood sweetheart, Elsa Egea, and lately, he has been seen with a journalist, Nuria Cunillera [she accompanied him to the awards ceremony]. FIVE. His most well-known hobby is mushroom hunting. But he’s also a football fanatic, and he watches games during his free time as a form of enjoyment. SIX. He has 23 titles with his club and country, the most out of any player in Spanish football.
Xavi at Marie Claire España.
Xavi was included in an editorial featuring famous Spanish personalities. He says, “my family, my friends and football are everything in my life. I couldn’t be more satisfied.”
Pepe Reina on TVE’s Mas Gente program.
Pepe Reina appeared on this program about two months ago, and Anne Igartiburu reeled off a list of adjectives and asked him to name the players they fit. Here are Pepe’s responses.
The grumpiest player: it depends. But in general terms, the most responsible one and the one that is always telling you things is Iker, but he can also be the biggest joker at the same time. But Gerard Piqué is the grumpiest when he loses at cards. He usually loses when we play pocha.
The most punctual player: Víctor Valdés and Puyol.
The most absentminded player: Cesc Fàbregas, who has one episode after another. Juanfran is as well. There is a great incident. We were waiting for our bus next to some stairs. He went up by himself, while the rest of us went down to the bus. I don’t know where he ended up.
The one who is most concerned about his appearance: Sergio Ramos is vain. I would be too, if I had that body. It’s normal that he takes care of himself, his hair…
Pepe also said he likes Canelita and El Barrio when it comes to music, and for his birthday, his friends invited a boy named Rubio de Pluma to sing Camarón’s songs, and he loved it. This was a pre-taped segment, and after this, when the show went back to the studio, Anne kept talking about how handsome and fit Pepe was.
Santi Cazorla at El Mundo.
In an interview with El Mundo from one month ago, Santi Cazorla revealed that it takes Mikel Arteta one hour to get to Fernando Torres’ house when he goes to visit him because London is so huge, and that his English professor Lizzy used to teach Cesc and they talk about Cesc during their lessons!
Bonus Javi Martínez.
Punto Pelota headed to Javi’s hometown of Ayegui right after that whole transfer saga involving him ended.
First, the reporter goes to his former school El Puy. The professors there say things such as Javi is very noble, passed his classes without difficulties, fidgeted a lot, talked a lot, had a good heart, was very religious and therefore an altar boy… We also find out that he got A grades in his physical education classes, and was already 1.76 meters tall in ESO.
The reporter also visits the home of Javi’s parents, with Fortu saying that Javi is normal, extroverted, broke everything in the house, hardworking, loves sports, including padel and basketball, a friend of his friends and a big El Canto del Loco fan. His father doesn’t say much, and his nieces hang around in the background. We also get a tour of Javi’s childhood room, and see family photos including that of his first communion.
But my favorite part of the video has to be this professor, who said, “Javi Martínez is more madridista than the stones that make up the Bernabéu,” since his family is very madridista.
Watch the video here.