totalBarça brings you the translation of an interview Gerard Pique gave to La Vanguardia which was published today. The original can be found here.
FC Barcelona defender and Spain international Gerard Piqué, who turns 25 on February 2, spoke to La Vanguardia detailing aspects of his career and his private life.
Three titles already this term, it couldn’t have been better than that, right?
We could do better in the League, but I think it is something significant for not only did we finish the year with those three titles, but we also topped our group in the Champions League, which is crucial for the knockout phase because we get to play the second leg at home. Well… that’s the only thing, the League, in which Madrid is ahead, but then there’s much to play for and the team is feeling very good.
Given the level of Madrid, it will be tight for Barça again as it was last season.
We have to give very little away as they are going to drop very few points, but there is still the return match at the Camp Nou, which as it stands, can be decisive. For now, we’ll just have to take it step by step.
This month, there’ll be a lot of big matches. And in the Copa, it will be nice if we could get to the final. But even before that, there is the theoretical encounter with Madrid in the quarters, which would be very exciting. We expect nice things to happen from January to May, and we hope to be in the running up until the end.
Some people think the two-horse race between Barça and Madrid is hurting football…
Of course fans will want to see their teams up there competing, but as things are economically, the two with the biggest budgets are going to be the strongest.
Do you think the economic situation we are currently experiencing [in the country] will have an effect on the big clubs’ players?
Yes, I think this crisis will leave no one untouched. It is true that the world of football has always been portrayed as a world where people working in it live a very good life, but cases of clubs failing to furnish players’ salaries are on the increase, and wages keep falling. The biggest ones don’t notice it as much, but mid-table or Segunda teams are suffering.
Can a privileged footballer such as you see any solution that can help alleviate the crisis?
I don’t believe a single measure can do it, but there have to be several. Just like the speech Pep made in Parliament [when he received his Catalunya Medal of Honour from the Generalitat], I think we have to help each other out to pull ourselves out of this crisis, we have to work harder, be more supportive and generous to others by our side, for the Government is already doing all that it can.
But in the end, football, as a game, instills hope in people. It gives them happiness when their team wins, and for that, we must try to win for our fans so people can forget, for a moment, a little bit of their sufferings.
Especially at a time when there are socis having difficulty paying their subscription perhaps?
People spend lots money to see us and we have to reward them.
Do you believe that it’s good for football that it is being played so late?
It is true that playing at ten o’clock at night is a bit excessive, especially for the children. The best time would be to play it at seven or eight.
Now that Carles Puyol is back in central defence with you, what kind of influence does he exactly have on you?
He has been extremely influential, like a brother to me in the dressing room. The chemistry between the two of us has always been very good, and by playing in the same department means we understand each other well. Our friendship goes beyond what we have in the team. We always go out to eat together, have dinners, and this helps a lot, for sometimes with just one look, we already know what each wants to do.
Carles is a good example to anyone, big and small. He’s been the captain for some time now, which is rather complicated being in a club like ours, because of all the pressure. It may not be as much now for we are always winning for the past three years, but it was difficult for him being the captain in those lean years before that.
Can you see yourself having the same relationship with Fontàs or Montoya?
I do not stop to think about it. Surely they’ll see me as an example, to learn the things that I have learnt, but that’s normal. The truth is we already have a very good relationship with everyone from the reserves.
What does it mean to you that you are back with Cesc and Messi after your Barca Cadete years?
It is great. For by bringing together so many competitive and very good quality players we have to work harder, trying to improve ourselves every day. And it happens to everyone, with Cesc, with Leo, and this spirit of wanting to improve ourselves serves us well. It is still happening now. With each season more canteranos are being promoted. That is very good for Barça economically for however much the club makes, it also has a high budget. And if the cantera can help out, that can only be good. Besides, they are home-grown, mostly Catalan and that makes people feel more connected with the team.
While all that is good, it is a known fact that this Barça team is the most expensive in the world, but it has to be mentioned that they also bring in the most titles.
Of course, but between Barcelona and Madrid, if you look at the first team, there are far more players that cost nothing in Barça, players that have been promoted from the cantera.
Who is Guardiola?
Pep is the heart and soul of this team. Ever since his arrival he has made things very clear, willing to die for his ideas, and has achieved everything he has wished for. No coach has ever done, out of 16 titles won 13, in just three and half years, and if he is to leave now, Pep will leave a void that will be difficult to fill. But we need not think about it. We just have to appreciate his presence, learn everything he can teach us, and above all, that special way he has of motivating us. The way he makes us go that extra mile even though we have almost won it all. He keeps us plugged in, with the same hunger for titles that we had the first day. The key is to maintain that hunger.
[In footballing history] there have been many great teams with great players, but there always comes a day when all that comes to an end and no one knows why. Perhaps it may not have the capability to reinvent itself.
Guardiola always defines the team with one sentence: “They are very good.”
Pep has a philosophy that Cruyff introduced at the time when Pep was a player, and it is one-touch football – to have control of the ball, and play a very high possession game.
When you see us work on our possession game in trainings, you can see that our play centres in the midfield with Xavi or Andres… That is what Pep meant when says ‘they are very good’. It is in those training sessions where you can see the quality of a team which is then reproduced in a match. It is in those training sessions where Pep is most proud of his players.
What’s good is that the public enjoys your games and you guys seem happy.
We tend to enjoy ourselves when we feel that the result is in our favour. When it’s at 0-0, we don’t have the time to enjoy ourselves, but with this team, when we are winning and playing well, we are masters of the game.
What have your English friends told you?
I have spoken with Sir Alex Ferguson, Ferdinand, Rooney, and the truth is that they recognise how well we are doing. Rooney even admits that Messi is very good, and they admire us.
If Ronaldinho was known as the one who always smiles back at a cule, what do you make of Messi?
He is leading this team to be one of the best ever in history. It is thanks to him that we won many of the titles that we have in those display cases. It is a pleasure to have him in our side, his game is the same as when he was 13 years, except now he is doing it professionally and is the best of the best.
All that we hope of him is that he maintains his present level. If he can improve on it that would be great, but no one should ask for anything more from him. Let him be himself, to continue his love of this game, because in the end it will be that love that will keep him up there for many years.
Would you give him the FIFA Ballon d’Or?
Of course, he has been at his very best level for many years. And Leo is the best in the world.
A fan asked me the other day if I thought Leo really felt the colours of Barça. What do you think?
I know him a lot, and honestly, I can say that Messi does feel for the colours of Barça more than people realise it. He feels this is his home. Despite the fact that he has had many tantalising offers before, you can bet he’ll be here for many more years.
What of yourself? Will you ever leave?
Since I arrived I have only felt a great joy. I’m back home, with the best team in the world, with the sun always out in January.
Once, I read that someday you would like to be the President of Barça.
They asked me if I see myself becoming a coach, and I said I see myself more as the president. I still think the same. I don’t see myself living football 24 hours a day so I see myself more as the president. For me the job of a coach is too burdensome. You have to be very passionate about it.
Which striker impressed you most?
Many. Drogba, in my first year in United, Cristiano is very good, Rooney. They are forwards that you have to defend against as a team rather than one-on-one.
What does defeating Espanyol mean to you?
It’s a special match because there has always been a lot of rivalry between the two sides. They are motivated, and want to show they are also a significant force in Catalunya because Barça always has the ball, and Espanyol, not so much. It’s complicated and more so at the Cornellà, a very nice venue with a great atmosphere. We’ll have to bring our best game there.
What would you emphasise of this current Espanyol team?
I’m amazed at the effort they make to continue their game, and even though they have to sell players, they are drawing many new ones from their cantera and they still try to play beautiful football. Physically they are very good and at home, they are very strong. I respect the philosophy that they have, and they deserve to be there.
Is Madrid the team that motivates you the most?
The Madrid team motivates us due to a lot of reasons. Both are playing for all the titles available, and the rivalry that has always existed since forever has been accentuated in recent years. There was a time when it went overboard, but now things are returning to normal. Every game against them paralyses the country.
You are one of the players who have made deep inroads into the social networking scene, and today has more than three million fans on Facebook and your @ 3gerardpique tweets has almost two million followers. Any particular reason why?
Well, I believe it’s something fashionable nowadays. First it was Facebook, and now Twitter, and as young people, we tend to like to be connected, being online, eventually you get hooked into all this. It’s fun, and it lets people know a little more about yourself, what you’re doing at any given time, for the curious. But it is a diversion. It is a fad that will pass and will be replaced with whatever comes next.
Do you know there is a group in the network called “jo també crec que Gerard Piqué sería un crack de davanter centre“ (“I believe Gerard Piqué can also be a crack centre forward”)?
Sometimes I like to get forward, and with this Barça team, everyone can play everywhere, and sometimes it works, but the truth is I know little of this group.
Do you take the number ‘3’ by chance or because you like it?
I was lucky that when I arrived at Barça Milito who wore ‘3’ had a knee injury, and being superstitious he told me he wanted to change it. I’ve always had that number ever since I was at Barça. I was a ‘3’ with the Alevín when we used to play with three defenders much like we do today, and I was in the middle. The truth is it’s been mine since my childhood. I’m accustomed with having it that I even use it with the national team.
Source: La Vanguardia.com; Image credit: Nicko Esga – La Vanguardia