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Esteban Granero – the Real… interview

March 19, 2011

The international break was not only for the players, because it gave me time to transcribe/translate this interview!  It’s a great one, since Esteban is very intelligent and articulate… and luckily for me, he talks very slowly.  In Spanish, he likes to say, “… bueno…” and in English, “for sure.”  The best part of the interview was hearing how he tricked those people in Shanghai, and when he talked about music in the locker room.

Great song.  Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”  One of Esteban Granero’s favorite songs.

Yes, it’s one of my favorite songs.  It’s not my favorite, but I have good memories associated with it.  It was always on in my house when I was small.  My father and my brother liked it a lot and it’s a good way to remind me of them, since they’re now far away.

We would like to start this program differently, by mentioning Eric Abidal, who was operated on satisfactorily yesterday.  I heard that you were very concerned.  Everyone was very concerned about Abidal.

Yes, these are situations that supersede any sort of rivalry.  He’s one more teammate in this profession and he’s a great professional and these are painful situations in which we all have to be united and supportive.  It can’t be any other way.

I suppose that the tribute to him in the Santiago Bernabéu via the big screens and the shirts that Madrid and Lyon wore should have helped him…

We had to do it.  Real Madrid is always an exemplary club in this sense and I don’t think it was anything forced, but rather it came from the heart.  When a teammate finds himself in a difficult situation, it’s good to support him.

And we can’t forget Miki Roqué, the Betis player who had a malignant tumor in his pelvis.  Sometimes life gives you these types of scares, which shows you that there are really bad things, and that we care about things that aren’t really important.

You have to value what you have.  Many times, we don’t realize how fortunate we are, and it takes these types of unfortunate things to make us realize it.  I’m convinced that Miki will also recover soon; he’s a great guy and we’re all with him.

You said that one has to value things.  Do you value what you have?

Well… I try to.  It’s not always easy.  It’s easy to forget, but I try to value things every day.  When I come for training, I try to see all the fields, to go into the locker room, look at my teammates… it’s a good way to recharge your batteries.

In what ways have you suffered in life?

With the things that happened to the people close to me.  I think we’re all more sensitive when it comes to our own families, our friends and I think those are the situations that make me suffer the most, including when something happens to me.  I’m a person that worries more about the people I’m close with, but I think that’s normal.

You love Japanese culture.  Right now, the entire world is shocked by the earthquake that has at the moment left 5,100 dead and more than 8,600 missing.  Sometimes life gives you a big blow, no?

It’s a big blow on a society that’s used to suffering a lot, because they’ve lived through dramatic situations in the past, but they’ve also shown that they know how to recover and move on.  I’m convinced that Japan, which is a country I love – I was there last summer and I love it – can get through this like they did 80 years ago [doing what?].

What is it about Oriental culture that attracts you?

I have a brother living there.  I think that means a lot.  I’ve spent a lot of time there, my nephews and nieces were born there and my sister-in-law is from there.  They’re fantastic people.  I’ve traveled a lot through Asia and I think they have another way of looking at the world.  They do value what they have, that’s what Buddhism is about and although I’m not Buddhist, the belief that the happiest person is the one that needs the least is something that they practice and is very practical.

Your brother lives in China.  What has he told you about China?

He tells me things and I’ve also experienced things when I went to visit him.  It’s another completely distinct culture.  They work more than anyone else, more than us.  They have less but they’re probably happier.  They protest less.  They’re happy with not a lot and you have to value that.

Would you want to live in China or Japan in the future?

I don’t know.  I like Madrid.  I think Madrid is the best city in the world for me and I love it here.  I love walking around Madrid, driving… Although there’s traffic, it’s a city that I like a lot, so I’d want to live in Madrid.  But I also love traveling, I love Asia, and I’ve been to practically every country.  But I would like to live in Madrid.

I know that you don’t like to tell anecdotes, but since we’re talking about traveling in Asia… is it true that one time you ran out of gas in Vietnam and got lost?

Yes, it’s true.  It happened two years ago.  How did you find out about it?  (Laughs)  Two years ago, I found myself in a town that didn’t have any gas stations and it happened that the gas stations were people who went around with containers of gasoline, selling it.  Luckily, we found one and it was our salvation.  I wouldn’t recommend that anyone gets lost there without gasoline.

What was going through your mind at that time?

At least I don’t have a training session (laughs).  I still had two more weeks of vacation, so I could get lost.  It was a situation in which getting lost wasn’t that important.  When you’re on vacation, time stops being so important and that’s good.

I always say that Esteban Granero is different.  Do you consider yourself different?

Yes and no.  I think everyone is different, since every person has their particularities and no person is more than any other.  I’m very introverted so I don’t like revealing my habits and my tastes, but I believe each person is different and each person has something good inside of them.  The important thing is to see the positive aspects of people, or at least to get close to this good side, which can also help you grow.

Is it better to be introverted in this life?

No, it’s not better or worse.  That’s the way I am.  I don’t know how to be any other way and if I tried to be extroverted, I’m sure I’d look like a clown.  I’m like this, I’ve always been like this, I have my virtues and defects, but I like how I am.  I don’t have any problems with it.

If you weren’t a footballer, what would you have been?  Have you ever thought about that?

Not a lot.  I study psychology and perhaps I would have done something related to that.  I love reading, writing, music.  I don’t know how to sing so I couldn’t be a singer, but I don’t know… Surprising things have happened to me.  I always dreamed of playing for Real Madrid, but I never really knew that I was going to play for Real Madrid.  One day I signed and it was a shock.  I’ve always dreamed of making a living off of football, but I never expected to do so.  With that said, I have worked a lot and I know that I wouldn’t have achieved it without so much work, but in the end everything that I’ve achieved has surprised me and I like it when I take a look back and there are things that have surprised me.

I saw you walking on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and I said to myself, this kid could have been a star, with an Oscar, an actor.

I don’t know, I’m not good in front of cameras, I don’t have the appeal to be on TV.

Why do you say that?  It’s not true.

I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it, to tell you the truth.  I don’t think it would be the profession I’d most like to do.

Who is the person you admire the most?

My mother, my father, my siblings.  I don’t have to go any further, I think.  For me, they’ve been an example, all four of them.  Each one for their way of being and I don’t have to go any further.  I could tell you that I admire Bob Dylan, but they outshine everyone else.

Have people let you down a lot in life?

No, I’m not a person that puts a lot of confidence in people I don’t know so that they can let me down.  It’s true that I’ve always expected good things from people, but I’ve never put so much confidence in them for them to give me a real blow.

And in what situation were you absolutely surprised by an unexpected gesture from a person?

In football, it’s complicated because there many interests and many egos to control.  Luckily, this year, the locker room, the same as last year, has surprised me a lot, because the people… it’s a great group.  It’s the best locker room I’ve been in, well I haven’t been in many, but it surprised me, because when you go to a club as big as Real Madrid, you expect a colder reception than the one I got.  I was received really well and this year as well.  I think we have a great group that will achieve great things this year.  

Let’s get to know Esteban Granero as a person.  What are the best and worst things about you?

What a question!  I don’t like answering it, because I think it’s something that others should respond to.  If I wanted to know what are the best and worst things about you, I’m not going to ask you because you’ll deceive me.  I would like to have more confidence in myself, to be a bit more cocky.  At times, it would be better for my work if I were a bit more decisive.  Some coaches have asked that of me and I’m conscious that I have to take this step forward.  I’ve taken half a step and I need to take half a step more.  Right now, since it’s trendy to be honest, I would like to be honest, I don’t know if I am, but I would like to be, at least.

And humble.  I believe that’s one of the words that is identified with you.


Because that’s at least what everyone says… everyone says that Esteban Granero is a humble person.

Yes, but a lot of times humility is confused with other things.  It’s a term that’s overused, the same as “solidaridad.”  They’re terms that unfortunately have lost their meaning, and there’s a lot of condescending humility and not enough of sincere, genuine and real humility.  That’s why I’m not going to use that word.

What do you like to learn from others?

Anything.  Everyone has something to teach others and even more so in my world.  In football, a competitive sport, you can always learns something from someone.  You can go to another area, such as music or literature, and you can learn from everyone.  It’s something wonderful and if you keep your eyes open, you can learn many things.

Let’s talk about music.  It’s very important to you.

I distrust people who don’t like to listen to music.  I have a bad feeling about them.  I need it.  I have musician friends who say, “I need to play football once in a while to feel good.”  Well, I need to listen to music to feel good.

And you even play the guitar.  I’ve been told by people who can tell that you’re quite good at it.

Well, I play… I’m an amateur [he’s better than Pipita for sure though].

And do you compose songs?

I composed one once for my girlfriend and left it at that.

Was it good, or do you need to improve?

She liked it.  The truth is that it doesn’t have to be good in order for her to like it, it’s the thought that counts… [I really want to hear this song!  Do you think he played it for her?]

What song would you have liked to compose?

I would have liked to compose the first three cords of “Es-smoke on the Water” and I would have liked to write Sabina’s “Peces de ciudad,” for example… I don’t know.

You said before that you study psychology, and if I’m not mistaken, you’re in your third year.  Does it help you a lot in football?

Yes, but I’m not better at psychology than Casillas or Xabi.  They have much more experience than me.  No matter how much I study, I’ll never be able to get to their level, at least until I reach the same age as them.

Is Juan Mata your best friend in football?

Probably [the feeling is mutual].  He’s a crack.  Last year, when there was so much doubt about who the Ballon d’Or should go to, I said he should win it.  He’s a great person, a good friend and as a footballer, I don’t have to say anything because he shows it on the field, and as a person, he’s a 10.

Do you have many friends in the world of football?  Real friends.

Not too many real friends, but no one does, I suppose.  I think real friends are the ones that have been with you since the beginning, and the world of football is one that is constantly changing, you change your team a lot, and when you don’t, others change and sometimes the distance makes it hard to maintain a friendship.  However, I have a group of five friends from Pozuelo that I’ve known since we were eight years old and they’ll always be there.  The other day, Casillas was with his friends and that reminded me of this.

Tell me about them.  Their names, what they do…

There are more or less five of them.

I know one of them is a professional photographer…

Yes, that’s Miki, the photographer, he has an eye for art.  There’s Miki, Cutro, Santi, Diego and David.  They’re my childhood friends, and they’re all studying in Pozuelo, finishing their degrees, and I’m the only one that has gone down another road, but when we get together to have a Coke, we’re all equal.  I’m very grateful for that and I also think that they’ve helped me a lot to achieve what I have or what I will achieve.  They’ll always have part of the merit.

Talk to me about your childhood.

Well, we were very mischievous.  We were troublemakers and in school, they wanted to kick all of us out.

What is the worst thing you did?  Because you’re seen as the perfect boyfriend, the perfect husband, the perfect father… I don’t imagine you doing bad things.

We’ve all done bad things.  I don’t trust those who haven’t because they’ve got to be a bit repressed.  You must have done some, no?  We’ve all done something and when you have accomplices, it always unites you more.

Don’t avoid the question.  Tell us something you did.

I’m only going to say that in school, I was never able to have recess because I was always being punished, well in reality we were all punished, since we did things as a group.  I didn’t get to play during many recesses and I’m not going to say why…

What memories do you have of that school?

My school was the Escolapios.  A big part of my childhood revolved around my school.  When I left school, I went to train, and I also studied music when I was young, but then later on I stopped.  But the people from the school have always treated me very well.  I continue going there.  When my nephew comes, I take him there to play football, and I signed him up for judo.  I have great memories of my professors, of everyone.  They treated me very well and although I was a bit of a good for nothing, I got good grades.  I have great memories of don Enrique, my literature professor, who was wonderful.  He retired two years ago.

And you’ve been part of Real Madrid since you were small.

From the age of eight, fighting to stay on the team.  In June, when you go to the offices of the stadium and they tell you, “you’re going to continue, but not you…”  And I always continued.

I imagine you went in with a knot in your stomach.  Who went with you?

My father, my mother, or both of them.  It was a difficult moment because if you left Madrid, it appeared that the world would end, and it’s not like that.  But now when I look back at my benjamín team, very few players have gotten to the top and you say, “what was it about me?”  I think it’s a lot of work and sacrifice.  I’ve always liked to train a bit more than others.  I’m not bragging, it’s just the way I think.  My brother always told me, “the best one is that one who works the hardest.”  That’s true in some ways and not true in others, but it worked for me.  I’ve worked a lot.  And whenever I went to the Bernabéu and saw the team take the group photo out on the field, I would feel envy and I think that motivated me a bit.

Tell me about your brother Pedro.  He’s the one that taught you how to play football.  Is he one of the reasons why you are where you are today?

I’m sure of it.  He taught me how to play football and many other things, and now that he’s far away, I miss him a lot.  He’s been a guide for me, he’s done everything he had to and the truth is I have no complaints about my family.  My father has been an example for me, my mother as well and my brother has been my Big Brother, but in capital letters and that’s very important for me.

Who did you fight with at home?

In my house, my sister and my mother were always the “good cops,” especially my sister.  She’s always been an important support for me.  And my mother as well, she’s always been a “good cop.”  Whenever I played badly, she would tell me that I did well, and even though I knew it was a lie, I was grateful that she said that.  My mother took me to training sessions from the time I was eight until I was 18, every afternoon, to the Ciudad Deportiva on Castellana, no matter whether it was raining, snowing, cold, hot… she was there every day.  I didn’t have any other way to get there, and she took me every day, giving up a lot of things to do that.  Where would I be without her?  I don’t know.

Did you ever have doubts that you could play professionally, even though you steadily advanced in Real Madrid?  At any moment did you doubt that football would be your future?

I never really thought that it would be.  I’ve always wanted it more than anything else, but I was never convinced that it was going to happen.  That’s why I told you earlier that everything that has happened to me has surprised me.  In any case, I’ve always liked to shine in what I do and when I saw that I wasn’t, I would get upset with myself and try and work harder and to do what I needed to do because that’s how I was.  And I’ve never been handed anything or been the best, and I’ve had bad moments as well.  I’ve had teammates who were better than me, and rivals who were better than me, but in the end everything played a part.  I’ve had a lot of luck as well, no?

What is craziest thing you’ve done for football?

Well, it was during my first trip to China to see my brother.  I think I was 14 or 15 and my brother (laughs) convinced the coach of the team in Shanghai to let me train with them.  It was my vacation and I trained with the football team in Shanghai every morning and afternoon.  I lied and told them that I played on the second team, but since the Web site is not as up-to-date as it is now, they believed me and I was there training with them.  I would go there in the morning, train, eat there, take a siesta there in a room, train in the afternoon and then go have dinner… I don’t want to sound like my brother was a Spartan or anything like that, because that’s what I wanted to do, and actually, I asked him to do that.  I remember this with a lot of affection, with a lot of affection.

You’ll never forget that month.

No, because I learned a lot and when I returned to Madrid after this month, I was more convinced than ever of what I wanted.

What team were you on?

I think I was on Juvenil B, having just graduated from Cadete A to Juvenil B.  Well, they thought I was in Castilla, I hope they’re not watching the show… I’m going to tell you a great anecdote.  Last summer, I went to a beach in China and I ran into my coach from that time and he recognized me.  Well, when you play in Madrid it’s easy for others to recognize you.  He remembered me.  He didn’t say anything about how long it took me to get to Castilla, but we ran into each other in the hotel having breakfast…

And you didn’t come clean either.

Well, I didn’t remember him because over there they all look the same [not nice Esteban!] but my sister-in-law did recognize him because he’s a former player and she told me and we talked for a while.  It’s a great anecdote.

What would your life be like without football?

I don’t know, but it would be completely different.  For me, football has been 90% of my life since the beginning, since I can remember.  My first memories involve a ball and the last ones as well.  So, everything I remember since eight or ten years ago I associate with a ball and so I can’t imagine how my life would be without it.

And without Real Madrid?

The same, I wouldn’t be a footballer without it.  Real Madrid made me a footballer, it taught me everything since I was eight, I grew up here, I’ve experienced wonderful and not so great moments and I’ve matured here.  The truth is that going through the cantera of Madrid is the best thing that can happen to a player… I remember all my coaches, all those in charge, Vicente del Bosque, who was in charge.  I remember all those who’ve passed through here, of the old Ciudad Deportiva, or taking the metro to the Bernabéu to watch Champions League games, because those are all things that mark you.  Without Madrid, my life would have been different.

Where did you watch games at the stadium when you were young?

We had our fixed spots on the north side, which was made of stone.  We had a pass for the standing room section and I would climb onto a barrier because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to see anything.  Before, there was a metal barrier.  So I would climb on and go up three or four steps, and there I would watch the games.

What game do you remember out of those that you saw as a kid?

I remember… my first game was a Madrid-Lleida, which Madrid won 5-0, and the second was a Madrid-Sevilla, which Madrid won 2-0.  It was the day that Lasa scored from the center of the field; I was there.  And the third one was one I saw Raúl for the first time, when we beat Rayo 1-0 and Raúl scored.  I remember saying to myself, “jo, este tío, vaya crack.”

And you ended up sharing a locker room with him.

Sometimes surrealist things happen to you and you don’t understand… it’s the same with Casillas, Ronaldo, or Kaká.  Those are things that happen and you look at yourself and you say, “where am I?”  Well, I’m here.  And it must mean something.

What teammate did you used to think was so much better than you, and later on surprised you by not making it?

There were a lot, but those people are necessary, because without these people, you can’t improve, and if you’re the best, then you don’t have the motivation to improve, to win.  I really like the phrase of Nietzsche who said you should praise your worst enemies, because they’re the ones that help you to become better.  I love competition.  I like it that there are people who are better, when new ones join the team, in my position. I don’t care, because I make it positive for me; you have to see it in that way.

Xabi Alonso, who’s not generous with praise, said a while back that you have one of the brightest futures in Madrid, and that you’re going to be a great player.

He obviously exaggerated.  Xabi is an example; he’s the one that is an example.  He’s the standard that all midfielders have.  We all want to be in Xabi’s shoes, but they’re still too big for me at the moment, but I want them to fit me, so I have to work.  People like him motivate you and if in football, which is a team sport, they handed out awards to players, he would have many individual awards.

Tell me about the first two captains of Real Madrid.

Casillas is the leader, the one in charge inside the locker room.  He’s the… he has a career that speaks for itself, as well as great qualities as a person, and these two things put together make him a true captain for Madrid, which is not always easy, but it is for him.  Sergio is another born leader, his spirit is really madridista, in the sense that he unites in him all the values of el madridismo.  This fight, this sacrifice, this strength, this competitive streak are what make up pure madridismo and he has it inside of him.

Talk to me about young players like yourself, players who have adapted quickly to the team and to the values of this club: Mesut Özil and Ángel di María.

They’re fantastic players who’ve given us a plus, both of them.  I can’t say anything more about Mesut than what is being said now.  I can say that, apart from this quality and excellence, he has the desire to become great.  You can see that in the training sessions, and it’s very important, and perhaps it’s not noticeable from the outside.  I’m with him in the sessions and you can see that he wants to be more, and that’s important, a virtue.  And Ángel has given us a lot as well, he never runs out of gasoline, he scores goals and he sacrifices… he’s a player that you watch and you say, “joder, I want him on my team.”

And now a player that you’ve supported a lot, and that has also been in the news recently – Karim Benzema.  He had bad moments in the beginning of the season and now it appears that he’s happy.

He deserves all of it now and he deserved it before.  I’m referring to superficial success, you know, making headlines or whatever… He deserved it before he came here, but he’s never given up.  He’s worked hard, and I believe that the coach has a lot to do with this and right now he’s the hottest player around, but he’s the same player.  What happened is that many times confidence gives you a lot and also hard work.  He’s worked very hard.  I’m very happy for him because he’s made an effort, he’s suffered and now he’s seeing the rewards.  He’s an extraordinary footballer and a great person.  Un tío muy majo.

Who are your references in the history of football and right now with Madrid?

I’ve always been a big fan of Figo, Zidane… they’re footballers who played more or less in my position and I’ve always compared myself to them.  I would also have liked to be like Raúl, Casillas, who I have as a teammate again.  And now I’d like to be like Xabi, who plays more or less in my position, and as I told you before, he’s the reference that all midfielders refer to.

This might be the most difficult question of the interview.  What history will you make in Real Madrid?

I hope a lot.  I’m not being irresponsible if I say that I want to be here for many years.  It’s a very easy thing to say, but there’s a lot of responsibility behind it and if I say I want to be here for many years, it’s because I assume the responsibility of contributing to Madrid during many years because I’m a madridista and because I’m the first one to want Real Madrid’s players to be important and contribute things.  I would like to be here for many years because I’m a madridista and I believe I can contribute things to this team and this club.

Let’s talk about the present.  Madrid has advanced past the round of 16 in the Champions.  I think it was a debt that you all owed to all of el madridismo.

Yes, a big debt.  It’s been a while since Madrid, the team with the most number of Champions League trophies, passed the round of 16 and although the past doesn’t mean anything, it was something that was hanging over our heads.  This year the mentality is different.  We’re very motivated for this competition and the rest.  We know that there are five games left, that if we give it 100 percent, we can lift the cup.  It’s something difficult to achieve in the careers of footballers and coaches, and something we want this year.

The míster said something interesting: “Real Madrid is the champion of champions, and advancing past the round of 16 should not be seen as an achievement, because the strange thing is not having advanced that far in previous years.”

Yes.  But not for the past, but for the present, because we obviously have the team to advance past the round of 16 and I believe we have the team to win it all.  What happens is that football is complicated, it’s not always easy.  We know that it’s going to be very difficult, but this year we believe more than ever and on Wednesday, when we came out for the game, we looked each other in the face and we said, “we want to get to the final.”

Have you ever dreamed about lifting up the Champions League cup?

A hundred times, a thousand times.  And wearing this shirt, which is important, many times.  I’ve fallen asleep thinking about it, and sometimes I end up dreaming about it, which you can’t control.  But I’ve woken up many times with this in my head.

And also the Liga.  There’s a derby coming up, and that means a lot for a madrileño.  It seems like Madrid knows how to handle Atlético, but they’re a great team.

Yes, they are a great team, but once again, the past doesn’t mean anything.  We’re going into the game with less rest than we should have, but we have to accept it, we have to defend and win because there’s no other option.  We can’t fail any more in the Liga.  We’re only five points away, and I repeat, only five points, which are few, although it seems like a lot.

This team believes in the Liga.

I’m completely sure of that, and if not, the boss is there to remind us of it.

Talk to me about the boss.  How has Mourinho made you grow?  He’s a coach who is very close to his players and especially you.

You have to thank him for helping you to improve.  I said before that your rivals help you to improve, but your coach is also important for this.  The most important thing is that excuses don’t fly with him, he’s an honest person and he has a thousand titles, he’s won everything, he’s the best coach in the world.  So the day that you fail, you can’t blame the coach.  You have to look at yourself and make yourself better.  We’re lucky to have him.

A lot of people say Esteban Granero is the future of Madrid, but for me, Esteban Granero is the present of Madrid.  But with you as the future of Madrid, it’s much better the club, for the institution.  Thank you for being here.

And here’s the interview in English.

Welcome Esteban. Congratulations on reaching the Champions League quarterfinals with Real Madrid. It was hard work to get there, but they did it. How are you feeling?

We’re feeling great because we’ve been waiting to reach the quarterfinals for several years, and now that we’re there we have the responsibility to try to reach the final. We know our supporters are expecting us to reach the final, so for sure we will try very hard to arrive there.

Real Madrid has already made it to one final this season, in the Copa del Rey. How much of a difference has Mourinho made?

Many, for sure. The coach is very, very important for the team and his results are there. You can see it. He’s won many titles and now he’s with us, which is very good. We are happy to have this coach and for sure we are improving so much as a team and every player.

He once said you were the hardest worker of all his players. How does it make you feel to know you have Mourinho’s confidence?

I feel very good with that. I think everybody works and trains very hard. I always try to work hard because it has always been my dream to be on this team. Now that I’m here I have to work very hard. It makes me very happy to hear that the coach said that because I wanted him to see it.

You’ve mentioned that you came through the ranks of Real Madrid, through the cantera. Does that give you a sense of identity when it comes to this club, the fact that you are a madridista?

Sure. I have been at the Bernabéu many times. When I was younger I used to train in the afternoon and take the subway to watch Champions League games at the Bernabéu. I watched the players from the top of the stadium and I always wanted to be there, and now I am. I think this gives you something.

You are there. What advice would you give to those who are coming through the ranks now, like Morata, Sarabia…?

I don’t know. I think I would tell them to be patient. It is very important to be patient because football is not always easy. You have to work very hard, and even when you work very hard sometimes you don’t have the best results. You have to be patient and keep working, and for sure you will find something good besides that.

A lot of people are surprised that you speak English. Many don’t realize that you do. Why do you speak English? How did you learn?

I think it is very important to speak English. In Spain there isn’t much of a culture for speaking English. My brother lives in China and married a Chinese girl. We communicate in English, so that’s the way I improve.

So she encouraged you to speak English?

For sure. She’s always talked to me in English. She now speaks Spanish, but we continue to speak in English because she thinks it’s good for me.

There’s a lot more to you than just being a footballer. You’re studying psychology. Why? How do you fit studies around being a professional footballer?

It’s not a matter of time because we have the time, but we mostly spend it thinking about football. It’s difficult to start thinking about another thing. And when you play for Real Madrid, football is so important that it is difficult to focus on another thing. But I think it’s important to think about anything. It doesn’t have to psychology. You can read a book, you can watch a movie, you can listen to music… it’s important to do something else.

Is psychology something you would have liked to have done had you not been a footballer?

Maybe. I think psychology is very important in everything, also in sport. It is very important in football. You can tell when a player or a team is psychologically okay because they seem to be better than the other team. Maybe they’re not as skilled as the other team, but psychology also plays a role.

You are a music fan. Which music do you like to listen to?

I like music, I like many kinds, but I like rock ‘n’ roll. I think music is very important for life. At least it is for me because I cannot live without music. I have musician friends who tell me they cannot live without playing football. Well, I cannot live without music.

Do you get to see any bands play, any gigs?

Sure. We’re lucky in Madrid because many artists come here. I think live music is very good entertainment.

Who chooses the music in the dressing room?

Not me. I hope in some years I have the strength to choose the music… because now I don’t like it (laughs).

Who picks it now?

Sometimes it’s Ramos, sometimes Marcelo. They… I don’t really like their music (laughs).

What kind of music do they pick?

Marcelo is more about hip hop and rap. I respect it, but I don’t really enjoy it (laughs). Sergio Ramos likes flamenco and similar styles. I also respect and like it, but not too much.

It’s not your favorite…

Yes, it’s not my favourite…

Maybe one day it will be your choice…

I hope so… I hope so…

What are your hopes for the rest of the season?

We’re alive in the three competitions. We know we have a chance in La Liga because five points is a short distance, so I think we can get it. We’re already in a final, in the Copa del Rey, which is against Barcelona, which gives it more value. And, as I said before, our goal in the Champions League is to reach the final. My hopes are to win all three, but at least we’ll try hard. Our supporters have to know that we will try very hard to make them happy.

Good luck with everything.  As always, it’s a pleasure to speak with you.

Thank you.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 17:02

    Aside from the racially insenstive remark (which surprised the hell out of me coming from someone as smart as El Pirata), this was a fantastic interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to translate it, una. We are so lucky to have you.

  2. March 23, 2011 18:15

    Well, duh, of course hip hop is not his type of music! He’s the hipster pirate! He may not be a shining footballer per se (compares to Mesut or di Maria) but he definitely has a shining personality! I love that he’s so knowledgeable and so humble. And, OMG, does he sing? I mean, he plays guitar so I guess he sings, too? Would loooove to hear his voice!

  3. March 23, 2011 18:22

    He’s practically perfection. Thanks so much for the translation!!

  4. Jeijoojeijoo permalink
    March 23, 2011 20:14

    thanks Una! Great work, once again!

  5. miwa permalink
    March 23, 2011 21:13

    Maybe he meant the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, although they happened 66 years ago.

    • March 24, 2011 17:32

      That was my guess as well.

    • DebS permalink
      March 24, 2011 18:16

      I thought the same thing…WWII

    • Sam permalink
      March 27, 2011 13:27

      He’s referring to the 1923 Kanto earthquake which was really devastating. However, apparently Japan underwent a sort of “boom” period after the earthquake as a response to the crisis.

  6. DebS permalink
    March 23, 2011 21:18

    Another great interview! Well, except for the comment about all Chinese looking the same. But I have heard the same said about them and other “non-Caucasian” people here in the US too. I think that unless you are around the different ethnicities on a regular basis it probably is hard to tell people within those ethnicities apart.

    He seems like a genuinely good guy. A protégé to Xabi’s perfectness?

    Also, he mentions his girlfriend…has there ever been pictures of them and have they been together long? Inquiring minds want to know. 😉

    Thanks again for the translation, Una. Obviously the English version left out a good portion of the Spanish version. I think my favorite part was his answers about the music in the locker room. He’s so adorable in the video when he answers it too. ❤

  7. Erika permalink
    March 23, 2011 23:40

    Just one quick information, 88 years ago, there was another tragic earthquake happened in Japan. Kanto Earthquake. wiki link here:

    Thank you so much for the translation. lolAnd I’m Chinese. It’s funny to hear his story about Shanghai.

  8. suzanne permalink
    March 24, 2011 00:01

    oh una, you are a saint! i ❤ you! thank you thank you a hundred times thank you for translating!!!!

  9. Milleca permalink
    March 24, 2011 00:48

    AHHHHHHH I might be in the very minority here but Esteban Granero is more perfect and classy than Xabi. Ahhhhh~ I loved this interview so much!

    Thanks for translating Una!

  10. March 24, 2011 00:55

    wow, what an impressive translation, thanks!!!

    I love the interview (apart from few faux pas’s from him), sounds sooo reasonable. I totally see why Xabi sees a great future like , they share similar level of, well, smart -factor (with all due respect to other players of course;-)

    Lovely El Pirata, I wish him well!

  11. March 24, 2011 01:14

    Oh, wow, that was a long one, Una. Thank you so much for translating.

    I think this may be my favorite of the lot (apart from Iker’s, of course). He comes across as really intelligent (I almost fell off my chair when he started talking about Nietzsche), humble, hardworking and passionate about Madrid and football. He’s very honest, too, he doesn’t give text book answers like “I’m friends with everyone” but he’s not tactless either. Maybe Iker could take lessons on how to answer potentially cnotroversial questions from him.

    And that bit about the music in the locker room! Hahaha. Maybe the boys should all take turns choosing the music, not just Marcelo and Sergio getting to choose all the time?

    His looks loads better with the shorter hair. His features are rather delicate, and I think the long hair used overcome his face. Now you can see that lovely, handsome face.

    • DebS permalink
      March 24, 2011 18:27

      I had actually never heard the song “Six Foot Seven Foot” by Lil Wayne until I looked at the video on YouTube.

      I like a lot of Lil Wayne’s stuff but I really only hear it on the radio. The non-radio version of that song is really raunchy and explicit. 😮 If that’s the type of stuff Marcelo’s playing in the locker room, I can see why Granero wouldn’t like it.

  12. KDJ permalink
    March 24, 2011 03:37

    The part where he said “they all look the same” threw me off a bit.. That’s not nice at all. Weird how it contradicted his love for Asian culture. Loving something, but said things that shouldn’t be said..
    But overall it was a very nice interview. He looked gorgeous in all the photos. Thank you Una for the translation 🙂

  13. dewi arum permalink
    March 24, 2011 04:35

    I always like this type of players. Granero, you’ll be as good and perfect (even more!) as Xabi. Trust me. Gosh, he has a value and a virtue as a players that come from La cantera. I super like it. You are amazing, Granero. Best wishes for you.

    And, for Una. Well, you always gave us almost everything about Real Madrid news. I like your perspective too. Thanks a lot Una. And i’m sos sorry for my bad english. =D

  14. March 24, 2011 05:57

    Thanks for translating this, Una! I tried reading the Spanish interview on the site but there were bits that didn’t make sense to me even with a translator. “Well, I didn’t remember him because over there they all look the same” that wasn’t nice, but coming from him, he probably meant it in a good natured way ><". We don't all look the same, honest!

  15. zyc permalink
    March 24, 2011 06:53

    wow.. he’s like a dream. he has such class and maturity for a relatively young guy!

  16. Stella permalink
    March 24, 2011 10:13

    Thank for the hard work you do with the translation. Nice to read about El Pirata because as as a not Spanish people I don´t know so mutch about him. He seems to be a really Nice and clever boy.

  17. noelle permalink
    March 24, 2011 10:50

    i dont blame him for saying asians look the same lol, sure its not the nicest thing to say but it was kinda cute and funny. im filipino, not quite asian, but i have a lot of asian friends and we all tease each other about that =) esteban is so charming! thanks for the translation una….it would take me forever if i did it on my own… my grandpa on my dads side is spanish and he used to talk to me in spanish when i was younger and i understood, he passed away when i was 7 tho and i forgot most of it now, i wish i didnt tho =/

  18. Jayna permalink
    March 24, 2011 11:13

    Hmm. I’m an Asian and when I see people with those fixed images towards Asian countries and the people (that they all look the same, are poorer than European & American ppl, pursuit some kinds of spiritual guidance…) many times I get annoyed, I confess. It might not hurt, but still racism. And being an Asian girl in America I actually get that a lot, so I tend to point it out too. When I read the parts he talked about Asia, I was like, hmm… of course I don’t think he meant it that way.. but it’s also the fundamental problem, isn’t it. That he didn’t know or wasn’t sensitive enough. Not to criticize Esteban here, but since he’s interested, I hope he could learn more things about Asia, and not just Haruki novels or Asian food. If that’s just all too much, maybe about racism? I’m sure he’s capable of doing that if he wanted to. He’s also a good student, no?

    I like Esteban and I very much enjoyed this interview! Lots of interesting details. Thanks for the translation! So far my favorite Real… interview. ❤

    • March 24, 2011 14:37

      Well-put! And it’s the runner-up for my favorite because I really enjoyed Mou’s as well.

    • March 24, 2011 17:36

      Well put. I found the comment extra disturbing in light of the fact that his sister in law is Chinese and he’s visited the country many times. He obviously loves the culture, you would think he would be a bit more sensitive about this. He seems like a nice kid, and perhaps he didn’t mean it that way, but someone should clue him in as to how that sort of statement could be interpreted.

  19. superfan permalink
    March 24, 2011 11:59

    Aaaaaahhhhh thank you so so so much for translating his interview!!! 🙂 The man is almost perfect (almost only because of his Chinese comment). I agree with you, Una, that wasn’t a nice thing to say. But anyway, I sure hope he’d be given more more time playing because he really is a great player. Thank you again for this. 🙂

  20. Whiskey permalink
    March 24, 2011 13:14

    Love love love this interview! I will repeat all the other thank yous to Una for the translation. I had watched the English portion which, while short, was very good too, but didn’t want to press my luck that Una would have time to translate the longer one. He really does come across as a very intelligent and thoughtful guy, with lots of interests – and his tweets (albeit few) show he does know there is world out there beyond football. Lovely to see him get more attention. Am really hoping for good things for him. I was puzzled by the comment about his father being “far away” though (he mentioned his brother lives in China)

  21. March 24, 2011 14:34

    Una, thank you so so much for translating this!! It was certainly a very interesting and different interview topic-wise than your typical Granero interview. As an Asian this interview sure did had a couple real jarring moments as other commenters already mentioned. But when people tried to brush off the comment entirely by painting Spain with a wide brush by saying “well it’s just that type of country” I could show them your translation comments as well as your previous translated post about on-field racism towards your players. It’s so nice that you can acknowledge one of them said something insensitive, even though I believe there was no malicious intent. Overall I still think he’s a fine young man and has many years to be successful as player and a person! (and learn more about the world I can hope…)

  22. March 24, 2011 15:15

    While his statement about Chinese people all looking the same may be ill-advised, he is drawing on the experience of most people observing other ethnicities on a limited basis. In criminology, they use the term ‘cross racial misidentification’ to demonstrate a very common phenomenon. Only with time and experience can people of other races start to distinguish morphological characteristics of ethnic facial features. It’s why, when my kid was 5 or so, an African American man knocked on our door and my kid said – ‘hey it’s Tiger Woods’. o-O
    This whole race thing is going to take some time, isn’t it? It’s hard to bust through it when it’s so ingrained in some people. I just work really hard with my kids to always be positive and never say bad things about other ethnic groups. Home is where it all starts. If it’s wrong, don’t teach it. The world would be a much better place if we would all just be real and honest. And not because a book or a preacher or your neighbor told you to, but because it’s the right thing to do. OMG – I’ve gone off on a tangent… *climbing down off soap box*
    Back to futbol fun. Have you all seen the gratuitous Serhio pics that Headbands and Heartbreak loaded the other day? *squueeeee* Go here:

    • DebS permalink
      March 24, 2011 18:41

      well said!

      Luckily, my ex grew up in Chicago where there is a lot of diversity. He can tell a person’s ethnicity instantly. I grew up in a basically Caucasian area so I hand am still learning. I’m really glad that my daughter grew up in a diverse environment. She is mixed and has a diverse group of friends so I am encouraged that she is not as racist as many of the people in our area. But still as a society, we have a long way to go. :\

  23. colon permalink
    March 24, 2011 16:13


    • March 24, 2011 16:35

      Have you seen the quality of the La Roja midfield?

      • DebS permalink
        March 24, 2011 18:45

        exactly my thoughts. Even Cesc gets limited playing time. Although, the future looks bright because there appear to be many more than qualified Spanish players waiting in line for the national team.

  24. Mika permalink
    March 24, 2011 16:28

    Thank you for translating the lengthy Spanish interview, I enjoyed reading Esteban’s anecdotes (Fine, I’ll forgive him for that one blip of a comment.). Gotta love him and Xabi, they’ve got that intellectual vibe about them.

  25. ulong permalink
    March 25, 2011 02:14

    i’m falling love with the last picture. gorgeous.

  26. Charlene permalink
    November 10, 2011 08:35

    HI Una,

    I’m not sure of how commenting works, but I’ve been working through your archives for the past few months…and well I’ve felt the need to address 3 topics. This is the first one. Again, I’m not sure if you’ll see these comments almost a year aftterwards, but for what it’s worth I feel the need to express my opinion on a few issues

    A lot of people of commented on Granero’s, “they all the same to me comments,” and have subsequently accused him of racism. I feel the need to come to his defense.

    It’s a scientific fact that we have difficulty in identifying people who come from a different race than us. You can look up the terms outgroup homogeneity bias and cross-race effect to get a first order understanding of these phenomenon. If you want a more academic understanding, then here’s a recent paper that says this exact same thing:

    There is nothing racially insensitive or derogatory in acknowledging the fact that a group of people with whom you are not familiar with, look homogenous to you. It doesn’t demean the Chinese people at all. Granero was speaking a fundamental truth of him (and people in general); he genuinely had difficulty in recognizing his former coach…primarily as a function of his race, but I suspect aging, and environment may have also been factors (similar to the shock children experience when they see their teachers outside of school, it boggles their mind that teachers can exist and have a life outside school).

    So to summarize, Granero wasn’t being racist, or even insensitive in anyway. He was simply stating a factual deficiency in his ability to recognize different people. A deficiency which we all share. It is terribly unfair, but more importantly dishonest to accuse Esteban of this, because as I said, we all suffer from this inability to differentiate other peoples. In all honesty, I think attitudes such as this…of false (and frankly hypocritical) outrage, actually harm efforts of racial equality.

    I will say this in defense of people of accused Esteban of being racist: perhaps they don’t travel too often and thus haven’t come across people of different races (I know the US is a melting pot, but there is a racial difference between American Chinese, and Chinese Chinese), and so haven’t experienced the “they all look the same to me” phenomenon, in adulthood (I’m sure they did at childhood, but those memories have long been lost).

    Sorry for the somewhat serious comment, but I felt the need to defend Esteban.

    Keep up the great work on the blog you’re doing!


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