La Roja in demand!
On the second day of the concentración, the players were made available to the press, and all of them were in high demand with journalists. Sergio Ramos was especially sought after, as he will be joining a select club of players after playing in his 100th game for Spain against Finland. Here’s a sampling of the interviews. We’ll start off with Sergio and Marca. The pictures – showing Sergio unveiling and posing with a huge blown up cover – are priceless.
One hundred games, 100 sensations. How would you sum up this long journey with La Roja?
It was a dream come true the day of my debut against China in Salamanca. And then remaining part of this team was the most complicated part. I would keep the three titles, because the successes are the cherry on top. I believe having two Eurocopas and one World Cup at my age is hard to beat. But I hope that the team can continue to win titles.
What does the shirt mean to you?
Strength, compromise, values, everything.
Do you remember the first one you had?
Yes, it was one that my father bought for me one time when the national team came to play in Sevilla. I don’t have it anymore.
Do you have keepsakes from those times?
Yes, I have two small museums, one in my home in Sevilla and the other in Madrid. In the one in Sevilla, I have the souvenirs from my youth teams: photos with Silva, Iniesta.
Do you remember March 18, 2005?
Of course, that was the first time I was called up for the senior team. I remember it as it were today. I had just returned from a training session with Sevilla and my mother was preparing lunch. Then came my brother and my father, who were the first ones to congratulate me. There had been talk that I would be called up, but you don’t believe it until you hear your name. I remember the first report I did, at home with the shirt of Spain and the number 2, which was what I wore with the U-21 team because I was a fullback. It was a dream come true.
Then came Luis Aragonés.
You always remember the things Luis tells you. The footballers know that the “Sabio” (wise) nickname is more than a nickname. It’s what he is. He knows everything about this sport. It has been a privilege to have him as a coach. The first thing he told me was, “kid, go out and do what you know how to do, since my back is broad and if things don’t go well, the criticism will be for me.” I remember that. It says a lot about Luis Aragonés and Joaquín Caparrós that they play people without a lot of experience.
And Del Bosque?
In addition to being an exemplary person and an example for society and for Spain, he’s a magnificent coach. Another wise man of football.
Of the 99 games, which one would you erase?
The elimination to France in the 2006 World Cup. It was my first World Cup and my first big game.
Has the national team ever made you cry?
Out of emotion, yes, which is the most beautiful thing. I haven’t seen my father cry many times, and one of them was seeing his son lift up the World Cup. It’s one of the things that I’ll always remember.
Do you smile each time you see Iniesta on the national team?
Each time I see him I remember the goal. I’ve always had a different relationship with Andrés for the way that he is. The entire world loves him. He was the most suitable one to score that goal. It’s impossible to look at him and not remember the goal.
Were you afraid to take the penalty Panenka style?
No, that’s the way that I am. I owed it to my mother and sister because they had suffered so much after the penalty against Bayern. I’m sure that many of those who criticized me and laughed at me for that enjoyed the one against Portugal.
Will you end up going to have a beer with Piqué?
A while back I said I wouldn’t go have a beer with Piqué, but we have a super professional relationship. We have no differences and if one day I have to go have a beer with him, there won’t be any problems. I’ve always had good relationships with players from other teams, not only Barcelona. I’m a pure madridista and I defend my colors and my escudo to the death, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get along with other teammates.
Congratulations, you’re about to play your 100th game with Spain. How do you feel?
Thank you. I feel a lot of pride and a lot of responsibility. It’s difficult to achieve this at my age, but I’m lucky to have debuted at such a young age and to have had coaches who had confidence in me.
Do you know you’re the youngest player to reach this number?
I feel proud of this record. I’m 26 and I feel happy to have achieved it at such a young age.
On March 30, you’ll turn 27. Can we celebrate your birthday with a win against Finland and another against France?
I hope so. There wouldn’t be any better way than this. Everyone hopes we can win in Paris, but first is the game against Finland, a team that you can’t underestimate and who has made things difficult for us.
What has been the best moment out of all these years with Spain?
There have been many, because every win with Spain is special. I have unforgettable memories from the first games, because it was one of my dreams as a child to debut with the national team. But there have been many other unforgettable moments: games against teams such as the Netherlands, Italy, Germany. But the best thing of course is raising up the Eurocopas and especially the World Cup. These years are unrepeatable and hopefully they will last for a long time. The truth is that I’m lucky to have been part of such a great phase with the national team.
Were you planning on taking the penalty kick Panenka style?
Yes, I had been thinking about taking it like that.
Which of these 99 games is the one you’re most satisfied with?
If I don’t let the emotions from the three finals get the best of me, I would say the game against Portugal in the last Eurocopa, for the tension from the penalties and the power of the rival.
La Sexta also got a piece of Sergio, and apparently this is the first part out of at least two!
La Sexta asks Sergio to look back on his career with La Roja by showing him the shirts from each era. Sergio says time has gone by really fast since his debut in 2005, that Luis Aragonés told him not to worry about messing up, and that after his first World Cup (2006), Zizou told him he was young and had time to become a world champion. The 2008 Eurocopa shirt brings back good memories, but not the Confederations Cup shirt. He ends by saying that he hopes in the future, when people talk about him, they’ll not only talk about the 100 games but many more achievements.
Álvaro Negredo at La Sexta.
Álvaro is the youngest out of three brothers, all of whom played football, so their parents had to spend a lot of time driving them around to practice and games. Álvaro started off by playing futsal, but his mother convinced him to change to football so that his training sessions would be at the same time as those of his middle brother. Despite all that, his parents made sure they never lacked anything. Therefore, each time he scores a goal, he kisses the tattoos that he has for his parents and brothers, as well as his wife and daughter. (The picture is from an interview with El Mundo.)
Gerard Piqué at Terra.
This video is mostly club-related, but Geri does tells Terra that he’s excited to go to Brazil, as he’s never been there but has heard great things about the country. He also says being a father has helped him to mature, and he’s really enjoying being a father. There’s a lot of club talk, for those of you who are fans of Barcelona.
Pepe Reina at TVE.
Pepe tells Silvia that he’s happy that David Villa will get to play in front of his home crowd after the bad time he’s had with the injury, and that he’s prepared to play for La Roja and contribute whatever the team needs, and to support Víctor Valdés completely if he should get the start.
David Villa at El País.
Highlights from David’s interview with El País.
How did you deal with the recovery from the injury?
There were many days, so there were many setbacks. There were days when I noticed enormous improvements, and others where I took a step back. After the second operation, I had discomfort that I had already overcome, and that was rough, because it was taking a step backwards. Fortunately, I had my family with me. You don’t know how well my oldest daughter took care of me. She saw me lying on the sofa, with my leg stretched out, and she asked me, “Papá, do you want the remote control, should I bring you water?” She was seven and she surprised me with how strong she was. She even reminded me to take my pills. [How adorable is Zaida???]
Was the worst day when you had to renounce going to the Eurocopa?
There was a month to go before the list was announced, and there was a lot of pressure on the coach and I told Emili Ricart that I wanted to see if I was ready. I saw that I wasn’t, and I called Del Bosque and told him that. I couldn’t lie to anyone. Then I took it with patience.
Do you remember the day you arrived at Sporting?
That was the day I realized that things were going seriously. I came from Langreo, a club with a long history, but I played with friends and it was more of a hobby. Mareo was a place that formed footballers. I debuted in a friendly in León and I scored. Acebal promoted me and debuted me in the second division. My entire town came to see me… I owe everything to Sporting. I came at the age of 16 and it instilled values in me.
Has the federation given you anything upon your return?
I had so much desire to return! I have dreamed about this day, of playing as the home team. I had always come as a visitor and I felt as if I were robbing my own house. I hope Gijón enjoys the game.
Lots and lots of interviews on Wednesday!