Xavi Hernandez won the award last year and Carles Puyol has also been a recipient. It was the turn of Victor Valdes, another Barca captain and La Masia graduate, to be bestowed with the Catalan Athlete of the Year. The FC Barcelona goalkeeper was only pleased with the accolade. “I receive this award with pride, but behind it is a lot of work done by the team,” he said. Valdes was not the only Barca representative at the Palau of the Catalonia Congress, which hosted the Festa de l’Esport Català gala (Catalan Sporing Awards) organised by the UFEC (Athletic Cataln Federations Organization) and the newspaper Sport. The captain of Barça Regal, Juan Carlos Navarro, was awarded the Most Universal Catalan Athlete award, while the club’s team was judged as the Best Male Team of 2011.
The goalkeeper, who had taken leave from training on December 20 to attend the gala, said that what makes the team special is their desire to win and always maintain the high standards they have set. “We have shown that we want to win a lot of titles,” said Valdes. “When we lift a trophy, we do it as if it was our first. We want to win more.” Valdes, who has won four Zamora awards (awarded to the goalkeeper who concedes least amount of goals in the La Liga), said that he believes he was chosen because “of his brilliant trajectory defending the Azulgrana goal, also because of the team’s success on the pitch … this means a lot to me. I receive this award with pride, but behind it is a lot of work done by the team.”
Valdes also had words of appreciation for manager Guardiola. “Day in and day out, he’s a maestro,” he said. “Each training session is like going to class at University. He never allows you to relax. He taught me how to enjoy the game and to play team football.”
Victor Valdes with synchronised swimmer Andrea Fuentes