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Sergio, Esteban, Rubén & Rui

June 7, 2011

Four interviews with four of the big names in Real Madrid: Sergio Ramos, Esteban Granero, Rubén de la Red and Rui Faria.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio is on the cover of Marca today, and inside is an interview where he talked about La Roja and Real Madrid.  The Real Madrid part wasn’t that interesting, but I do love the picture that accompanied the article!

Did you imagine that Mourinho’s social and sporting impact would be so profound?

It was something that you could see coming, for all that occurs around our coach.  There are few coaches that cause reactions the way Mourinho does.  We’re fortunate to have him, for his experience, his titles.  Madrid needed a person like Mourinho, a reference with character and personality.  You learn from him every day.  He’s always attentive with everything and that helps you to improve each day.

Are there two Mourinhos, one that the people see and the other that the players see?

The image that he transmits is his own, but the truth is that the closeness he has with us is not something you can see when you only have those images of him at press conferences or games.  He’s a very direct person, loyal to his ideas and he looks for the best thing for each footballer.

Has Mourinho made Sergio Ramos into a better defender?

We’ve worked very hard on the defensive aspect and the entire team has noticed that, not just me.  The numbers are there.  The defense is fundamental for a team, so you can’t only appreciate those who score goals.

How close has Madrid gotten to Barcelona this season?

I don’t like to compare us to others.  They have their style and philosophy of play.  Ours is completely different, it’s something that Mourinho came up with.  Bit by bit, we’re seeing a more solid team that plays better and that was capable of winning a title.

Where is the bar for Madrid in its second year with José Mourinho?

Madrid is obligated to fight for the four titles that we’re going to play for next season – the Supercopa, Liga, Champions and Copa del Rey.  That’s always a priority for this entity.

How is your contract renewal going?

When it’s definitive, and everything is signed, you’ll know, but we’re not there yet.  There’s been a very important rapprochement and the agreement is almost total.  I’m happy and I want to retire in this club.  I’m very happy in Real Madrid and I’m not considering anything else other than continuing to play in white.

Do you see yourself as the Maldini of Madrid?

He’s been my reference and my idol and I would be proud to have my name signify in Madrid what his does in Milan.

The part of the interview talking about La Roja can be found here.

Esteban Granero

Esteban, in addition to being all in, gave this interview to Marca while he was visiting his Piratillas the other day.  The interview was published in the June 6 edition, and we also got this cute little video of the interview, including several moments of Esteban just teasing his little pirates, posing (it’s good to see that he’s continuing his Xabi Alonso studies even in the summer) and in general, just looking boss.  And as you can see from his answers in the interview, he’s extremely diplomatic and well-spoken too.  Xabi-in-training, in so many ways.

Your thoughts on the season?  What grade would you give to the team?

I’m not one that likes to grade things, but it’s been a positive year because we’ve taken an important step forward.  The team has improved a lot, it’s more competitive, and has very clear ideas.  In addition, we won a title against Barcelona and we’ve shown that the distance that many people talk about is not that huge.  We’re there and next year, we’re going to fight for everything.

What did it mean to win the Copa del Rey?  Do you believe you shut many people up with this triumph?

I don’t think you have to view it like that.  Winning a title is always important, for the team, the club and the fans.  It was something that gave us a lot of confidence, but our goal wasn’t to shut anyone up, because we had enough to do with doing our own work in the best way possible.

The club has been locked in a duel with Barça for two years.  Do you feel that Mou is closer than ever with ending their hegemony?

I feel that the míster‘s project can be definitive for Madrid.  The ideas are very clear, the team identifies with his philosophy and I believe that it will bear fruit.

Many of your teammates believe that next year will be spectacular, that the team will achieve an incredible level.  Do you think along these same lines?

We’re convinced that we’re going to be the best team.  You could see during this past year the difference between the beginning and end of the season, and I believe this progression will continue.  The confidence the players and the club have towards the coach is total and that’s fundamental.  We have the best coach in the world and the results will come.

How has Madrid changed after one year with Mou in charge?

As a team, we’re more competitive and we have a clear idea about how we want to play football.  He’s a coach that demands the maximum from his footballers and who makes them better.  In addition, he makes you think that everything is possible, and so you only think about winning.

There are those who see him more as a prophet than as a coach.  It’s been a while since a Madrid coach has been this influential.  What is it about him that ropes in people?

Aside from his career and his titles, he’s a man that knows how to express his ideas well.  He’s honest and the players are grateful for that.  He makes you want to return all that he gives you, which is a lot, with hard work and sacrifice.

What is your position on the debate over whether he represents the values of el madridismo well?

I know the values of Real Madrid quite well, because I started in this club when I was eight, and from the time I was small I was taught to be competitive, a winner and to not conform myself.  And those are exactly the values of Mourinho.  That’s why I don’t think this debate makes sense.

Is any player from Barcelona on your blacklist?

No, I don’t do that with anyone.  Each person can do what he wants and I’m not anyone to judge anyone else.

Some continue to do so, for example Piqué spoke about you all during the celebration for the Champions League.

I reiterate that each one is responsible for his own actions.  Madrid’s footballers are very proud of our behavior both on and off the field during the clásicos.  And that’s what interests me.

Did you like it when Mourinho stated publicly all that he thought about the referees favoring Barcelona?

Well, it’s not that I have to like it or not.  It’s the responsibility of the coach to defend his team and that’s what he did.  He said what we were all thinking.  Our feeling was that it hurt a lot to be eliminated like this.  We all had the same thought when we were worked up.

Does it bother you that Barcelona considers themselves the champions of good football? 

I think it’s great that they consider themselves in that way.  It’s not that way for me, but that’s my opinion.  We have many opportunities in front of us to demonstrate that on the field.

There is a sensation that they’re the “good cop” and you all are the “bad cop.” 

We don’t try to sell any philosophy, we only train, improve, compete and win.  That’s our idea.

Let’s talk about you.  Will you continue with Madrid, or would you consider leaving?

I will continue with Madrid.  I have two more years left on my contract, the confidence of the club and of the coach, and the dream of continuing.  There’s nothing else that I need in order to continue.

There are other big teams that want you…

I know, but no one that can play in Madrid wants to be on any other team.

You’re one of the players closest to Mou.  Why is that?

It’s not just me, it’s everyone.  The relationship between the team and the míster is very good and that’s fundamental for success.

But you’re one of the most praised ones by Mou in public.

Receiving praise from Mourinho is important for me, and gives me the desire to continue fighting.  It’s made me improve a lot.  In the same way, it’s made me grow as a player, and I also want to do my part to help the team grow.

You were present in the starting XI in Madrid’s best games.  Do you need continuity or more confidence from Mourinho?

Well, I don’t think I was such a determining factor, if I were, I would have played in all the games (laughs).  Each time I’ve played, I’ve tried to give it my all and do what the coach asked of me.  I contribute what I know how to do and that’s it.  My work is to try and convince him to choose me for the eleven on each Sunday.

Which of your teammates has surprised you the most?

Benzema took a huge leap forward and he’ll continue growing.  He’s a spectacular footballer.

And what can you tell me about Cristiano Ronaldo?

He’s spectacular.  His ambition is limitless, and if that’s added to his physical and technical capabilities, you get a monster, which is what he is.  I thank God that he’s on my team.

Rubén de la Red

Meanwhile, AS spoke to Rubén shortly after he captained the Real Madrid side in the Corazón Classic game on Sunday night.  The last time Rubén had worn the shirt of Madrid in the Bernabéu was 974 days ago, during the Real Madrid-Espanyol match (jornada 6) of the 2008-09 season.  I love this interview not only because I love Rubén, but because his history as a canterano shines through.

This was the first time you’ve played in the Bernabéu since you suffered the syncope on Oct. 30, 2008 in Irún.  Did it make you emotional?

Yes, a lot.  The Santiago Bernabéu is the theater of dreams for the canteranos of Real Madrid, the ones who have been formed and who have grown up in this house.  Since I’ve been here my entire life, returning to play here brought back a lot of good memories.

Did it help ease the pain that you had from not being able to play in the Bernabéu anymore?

Life is like this and having the opportunity to return to play in the Bernabéu was very nice and special.  The stadium was almost full and the fans responded really well.  I’m emotional and I keep things on the inside, but that’s normal after playing alongside some of the best players in the history of this club.

You could see that the fans still love you, since they applauded constantly for you…

At one point, I rejected some offers to play elsewhere, and decided to stay here.  I’m a madridista and I always wanted to triumph here, and just when I was at the point of doing so, life pushed me back a bit.  That’s why I wanted to enjoy this game and I did, which is the most important thing.

Did your sons Oliver and Cayetano come to the stadium to watch you play?

Of course they were in the stands watching their father.  They had a phenomenal time, it was a great afternoon for everyone, other than when it started to rain.

What did it mean for you to be named captain when there were so many stars in the locker room?

It was a surprise, because I was the youngest one there, and here, seniority is always respected, but everyone was okay with it.  You experience difficult moments in life and they’ve helped me and supported me.  I’m grateful for that.

Santillana took off the armband to give it to you.

He didn’t say anything to me.  That was great.  They all were very affectionate with me in my return to the Bernabéu.

Zidane could still play…

He has a lot of class and it’s a pleasure to watch him and play with him.  He doesn’t lose balls because he controls them with his first touch.  He doesn’t need to run a lot.  When you don’t train, you get out of shape, but he’s still phenomenal.

Who were you excited to play with?

Fernando Redondo.  It was wonderful playing some minutes with him.  He’s one of my references.

Was the game the best birthday present you received?

Yes, or at least it was different.  I don’t think I’m going to be celebrating any more birthdays in this way.  It’s not easy for this whole experience to be repeated, since the stadium was full and the fans were splendid, and I returned to this great stadium.

What will you do now?  Will you continue with the Juvenil A team as assistant coach?

We’ll see.  I have a national license and the first thing I need to know is what the club thinks.  They have to tell me whether they want me to continue or not.  I would like to continue coaching and learning.  [The club better tell him that they want him ton continue!!!]

Do you learn from the kids, or do you teach?

A bit of everything.  You teach because 16-year-old boys need to learn a lot, but you also learn about each person and each player.  I also started from the bottom like they did.

Rui Faria

And finally, Marca also interviewed Rui Faria; this came out on the June 4 edition.  It’s always interesting to hear from those in José Mourinho’s entorno, to give a different perspective on TSO, which is probably why I love it whenever Aitor Karanka opens his mouth.  And now Rui does too!

What are your thoughts on your first season with Real Madrid?

In general terms, we’ve had a great season.  We didn’t achieve two great objectives, but we did win the Copa del Rey, we got to the semifinals of the Champions and in the Liga we finished second, and had the best attack.  I’m satisfied, especially because we’re going to improve next season.

Is working in this club as you had imagined?

It’s the biggest club in the world and its ambitions line up with ours, so it’s a challenge to triumph and to leave a mark in the history of Real Madrid.  In the beginning, you’re a bit surprised by the tremendous dimensions of the club, its history.  I knew of it of course, but from the outside.  Once you’re on the inside, you realize it’s all much greater than you had thought.

You’re the person that knows Mourinho the best, since you’ve been together your entire careers.  Does he consult you during games about tactics?

José is very special (laughs).  During games, he has his opinion on what’s happening on the field and he expresses them, but he also asks us for our opinion because he likes to hear ideas that are different from his.

And is it easy to make him change his opinion?

He’s very conscious of what he wants in each moment, he has very clear ideas but he does listen.  And he listens to everyone, not just me.  If you want to work with Mourinho, you have to have your own opinion and make your own analyses, because he wants to know your opinion.  He doesn’t want to hear you say the same thing as him.

Are you the fitness coach, or an assistant?  What is your exact title?

We are all assistant coaches, not just me.

Some people doubted whether you could maintain such a high level of physical fitness throughout the season. 

It’s true, but that’s normal.  They weren’t used to our method and it’s always hard in the beginning when a routine is changed.  But we have 10 years of experience working like this, we know what we’re doing and we don’t have any doubts that it works.  They all adjusted quickly, and when they saw how intense the training sessions were, they joked around a lot less (laughs).

You have very many exercises prepared, no?  How many are there, 25, 50, 100?  We always see Karanka with that huge notebook each time a player is subbed in.

I don’t know how many there are exactly, since I don’t count them, but there are a lot.  We’ve been doing this for 10 years, so imagine how many…  We’re always preparing new exercises, but with the same objective.  The motivational aspect of the players is fundamental.

Is it a paradox that Mourinho has been accused of being a defensive-minded coach but that the training sessions always revolve around the ball?

I don’t know why people think he’s a defensive-minded coach, what is that based on?  We were champions in Italy, in England, in Portugal and I’m sure we will be in Spain, and we always end up being the team with the best attack: the same thing happened here as it did in Inter, Chelsea, Oporto.  I don’t understand it.

You seem upset.

I’m not, but I don’t understand this criticism.  It might be because in certain games in which we played against a special rival, we always ended up with 10 against 11… but during the entire season our play and our numbers show it.  I’m not angry, I won’t waste time with these things.

What is it like working with Mourinho on a daily basis?

It’s easy and difficult at the same time.  It’s easy because you always have to be well-organized, and it’s also very difficult because it demands a lot, since everything has to work well.  Here, at this level, there are no friends.  You either have the capability or not, there’s no other way.

Are you as demanding?

I try to be.  And after working 10 years with José, I should be, no?  (Laughs)  If not, I wouldn’t be here.

Do you work as hard as it’s said?

Yes, a lot, a lot.  You’re involved in everything, from the most important things to the smallest details.  It’s exhausting.

Do you see yourself becoming a head coach in the future?

I’m motivated to continue working as Mourinho’s assistant.  My future right now is this present.  Later on, who knows.

Do you see yourself as assistant to any other coach?

Impossible.  I either coach with José or alone.  It wouldn’t make sense to coach with anyone else.

Give me a one-word answer to the question “why does José Mourinho win so much?”

Professionalism.

You could expand on that.

His professionalism is the secret.  It’s everything – his mentality, how he works, how he thinks, how he analyzes, how he motivates… it’s the enormous passion with which he – or better yet, we – do our work.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. Vanessa permalink
    June 7, 2011 09:23

    🙂 such great interviews! Not an ounce of arrogance or bitterness. Really like how Ramos said he doesn’t like to be compared to other teams since every team has their own style. Granero answered those Barca questions like a pro! I didn’t realize Pique made comments during the CL celebration? Do you know what they were?

    • June 7, 2011 16:29

      He said, “we don’t take drugs, we don’t fall to the ground, we don’t buy off referees, we only play football.”

      • June 8, 2011 02:06

        He must have a pair of Xavi’s rose colored glasses too. :\

      • Vanessa permalink
        June 8, 2011 08:06

        My oh my! Guess Madrid is always in their heads. Thank you for the update!

      • LaBlanca permalink
        June 8, 2011 08:27

        what a hypocrite

  2. IsaBella permalink
    June 7, 2011 09:57

    thanks Una for these lovely interviews, and well, The Sergio Pic is always welcome! 🙂 BTW do you know how much is the abono for Bernabeu?

    • June 7, 2011 16:30

      It depends on where your seat is.

      • IsaBella permalink
        June 7, 2011 17:06

        ahh, I understand, how much is yours, for example? I just wanna know the average price scale 🙂

        • June 8, 2011 15:21

          The normal abono (for Liga games only) goes from 200 euros to 1,600 euros. The EuroAbono (Liga, Copa, Champions games ) goes from 300 to 2000. These were the price scales for this past season.

        • IsaBella permalink
          June 8, 2011 16:32

          Thank you Una for this information! I’ll see if I can get it for next season! 🙂

        • June 9, 2011 13:34

          I believe the club isn’t accepting any new socios at the moment (unless you’re the child or grandchild of one, since there is a maximum number allowed under club statutes), and the wait list for a seat at the Bernabéu is several years long.

        • IsaBella permalink
          June 9, 2011 14:54

          oh no, that’s a pity 😦 I’ll be getting separate tickets then… thank you anyway Una!!

  3. Cat permalink
    June 7, 2011 10:47

    “Some continue to do so, for example Piqué spoke about you all during the celebration for the Champions League.”

    What did Piqué say?

  4. amouria permalink
    June 7, 2011 10:47

    I always wanted to know this man, Rui Faria. Thanks Una for the translation. Although he gave a lot of details, but his success is still a secret…

  5. Stella permalink
    June 7, 2011 11:12

    Thanks for a really nice post, as always!

    I was so happy that the Swedish televison air the game between RM and Bayern:) I was so happy to see Ruben in Bernabéu again. Totally love him and miss him. But when he dived in the panitry area I got panic, I thought he had a nother horrible “heartinfarct” again.

    Nice to read about Rui Faria because I know nothing about him. Like him because he is the only one that giggle when Mou is bumping his head in to things. Esterban is a sweet heart and I am happy that he is a part of this team. I want to be a pirate on his boat.

    I have a question, why does you (and a lot of Madridistas) not like Kun Aguero? I don’t know so mutch about him but maybe its because I can’t speak spanish and I don’t understand that he is rude for example. That is little of a mystery for me because I like him as a player.

  6. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    June 7, 2011 11:25

    Granero= Perfection.

  7. Pammie permalink
    June 7, 2011 12:46

    yeah, that’s a nice photo of Sergio! 😀

    Esteban is such a diplomat, I love his answer to the Piqué question. A Xabi in training indeed! In the video interview he seems to talk about Iker and Xabi too, or did I mishear that? He’s so adorable with his little pirates, what’s not to love about this guy?! Pilar is a lucky woman!

    Xabi’s interview with LFCtv is very liverpool centric and I’m getting tired of him going on about the magical nights in Anfield. 😛 But he talks about Ane and Jon towards the end of the interview and that is really cute. ❤
    http://steelwater.tumblr.com/post/6259009848/uploaded-the-xabi-interview-again-enjoy

    Yay an interview with Rui! This man in the second row is a bit of a mystery, so it's great and interesting to read what he's got to say. Thanks a lot for the translation!

  8. manie permalink
    June 7, 2011 13:25

    These were excellent to read. I enjoyed hearing from Rui, but I really liked el pirata’s… seriously, xabi in training. Thanks for translating!

  9. Happy permalink
    June 7, 2011 15:09

    I love what Granero said, we are Madrid, and I am proud of what the team do on and off the field.
    Actually I think we should be happy how Barca behave now, if they’re so perfect in all aspects, then they’re not human, now we know they’re just human, and can be defeated, with comparison, I love my team more and more!!!
    Ramos, I hope you could be here for many years, you bring me lots of funs and happiness!!!!

  10. Nurul permalink
    June 7, 2011 16:54

    Thanks for the translation, Una! Such great interviews, from -all- of them.

  11. June 7, 2011 22:12

    So much class in these interviews. Unlike certain guys from a certain club.

  12. June 8, 2011 02:11

    Una, you just had to sneak that pic of Ramos in didn’t you? lol well placed…I totally wasn’t expecting it!

    The more I see on Granero’s twitter/FB and read about him here, the more I am impressed with him. Class act!

  13. June 8, 2011 05:31

    “He’s been my reference and my idol and I would be proud to have my name signify in Madrid what his does in Milan.” I love Maldini+Milan and hope that Sergio gets his wish.

  14. Jessica permalink
    June 8, 2011 07:58

    There is a much better ass pic of sergio i just have to remember where i saw it lol

  15. Jessie permalink
    June 8, 2011 14:40

    loved the interview and photos

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