Recently FC Barcelona’s “17” Pedro Rodriguez spoke to FIFA.com in an exclusive interview about the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup, upcoming challenges, the upcoming Club World Cup in Japan, and ways to keep motivated. You can read the complete interview here. Excerpts from the interview are after the jump.
FIFA.com: Pedro, the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup was your first major title. What are your memories of that tournament?
Pedro: Very happy ones. It was a really important tournament for me because I scored in the semi-final and the final, which contributed to us winning the title and also helped me achieve a record by scoring in every competition we played in that year. It was a fantastic event and keenly contested too. I enjoyed it a lot.
Your career has taken off since then. Did you expect to go so far in such little time?
I’ve always been ambitious, I’ve always wanted to play and I knew I had talent. To be honest, though, I never expected things to work out so well for me. I’ve had a fantastic few years with some wonderful team-mates and it’s been brilliant to have all this success with them.
Having won the trophy a couple of years ago, are you just as excited about Japan 2011?
It goes without saying that winning the Club World Cup is never easy, and we’re going to give everything we’ve got to try and do it again. We know we’ll be up against some tough teams like Santos, who’re a fantastic side and play some really attractive football. We can’t forget about Monterrey either. We know through experience that Mexican teams always battle hard, defend as a unit, and hit quickly on the break. We don’t know much about the other sides, but we’ve still got time to take a good look at them.
Do you think Barcelona have improved this year?
The team’s always had a lot of talent and we’ve always had fantastic players. I think the arrival of Cesc (Fabregas) and Alexis (Sanchez) and the emergence of Thiago has made us a bit more compact this year, and we’ve got a little more strength in depth, with players who can come off the bench and change games. The new guys have all brought something new to the team too. Alexis can get past people on the flank, Cesc’s versatile and focused and brings balance to the team, and Thiago’s very dynamic.
Their arrival could mean fewer opportunities for you.
There’s always been a lot of competition for places in the team and a tremendous amount of quality up front, but that’s good because we’re stronger and our opponents bring out the best in us. I don’t have a problem with rotating either because everyone’s got something to offer. We want to win a lot of titles and to do that we need all the quality we can get.
Barcelona have won the lot. Is the motivation still as high as it was?
Absolutely. You only have to look at the more experienced players, who are as hungry for success as they’ve always been. It’s impossible to train alongside someone like Carles Puyol and not feed off his desire and ambition.
Finally, what do you think has made you the success story you are today?
I spent a lot of time playing when I was a boy, first with my friends and then with my club, and the most important thing for me has been to keep on working hard. Obviously I’ve learned a lot with Barcelona because they’ve got some great coaches, and at the end of the day that’s what counts: to keep on learning. Every time a new player comes into the team I try to watch them and see how they do things, and when you’re playing alongside the best players in the world week in week out then something has to rub off on you (laughs).