Álvaro Arbeloa – the Real… interview
This was another great interview, not only because Álvaro is so articulate and intelligent, but also because he talked about his loved ones: brothers Raúl and Yago (I love that they made a pact to name their sons after each other), Carlota, Alba the tomboy and of course, the grandmother of Spain, Soledad. However, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more talk about his platonic love, Raúl Albiol. And if I had a euro for every time Alvarito began a sentence with “pues…” or “bueno…” I’d be very, very rich right now. Perhaps rich enough to buy Javi Martínez (!!!) for Madrid.
What a great song, “Now We Are Free,” from the soundtrack of Gladiator. This is the song you chose to start the interview with. Good evening, thank you for being here.
I think many people would have expected you to choose another type of song, but you said it was an epic movie, a war movie, you love this.
No, it’s just that I like soundtracks a lot, and concretely this one because the movie is one of my favorites. This is a song that’s always given me a lot of strength, I have good memories associated with it and it’s an important song for me.
What memories do you associate with it?
As I said, it’s a song to put on during those moments when you’re doing poorly, when you’re having difficulties, because it gives you a bit of calm and a lot of strength. It’s a song that I’ve listened to so many times and on so many good occasions… there have been a lot of good ones.
You like soundtracks, epic songs and t-shirts, of rock and Muhammad Ali. You love that. Your wife tried to make you wear a dress shirt here, and it was impossible.
Well, I thought it had to be the authentic Arbeloa, as the name of the program suggests. And this is what I wear on a normal day, and yes it’s true, I like t-shirts of rock groups, Muhammad and movies. I do like them.
It’s because in life, you’re a fighter.
Well, I have that character of never giving up, that when things perhaps don’t go as you expect… I’m not a person that gives up easily and I get up each morning to try and improve when it’s necessary.
To make things better, to make things perfect… you complain a lot! You complain about everything! Nothing is right! Everything always has to be perfect!
No, it’s to screw around with the others. It’s true that I give them a hard time, and the míster has told me more than once that I have to change my shirt and join them in directing the training sessions. I do tend to get a bit wound up over things.
I remember one training session, I don’t remember the exact day, but you weren’t there, and there was peace, silence. And then you arrived and started shouting, hey, the ball, over here, close up the wing, move, let’s go…
Yes, they do miss me when I’m not there, I think it’s more boring when I’m not there.
Were you like this when you were younger?
Well, as a kid, I was quite mischievous and bad, or so I’ve been told. Perhaps I’ve blocked those memories of everything I did.
If I’m not mistaken, you were born in Salamanca, and at the age of three, your family moved to Zaragoza. Do you consider yourself a maño (person from Zaragoza)?
Yes, I do consider myself maño, I’ve never denied that I was born in Salamanca, but I grew up in Zaragoza and all my memories from my childhood took place there. My wife is from Zaragoza, my family lives there, and I consider myself maño.
You’re the youngest out of three brothers. They’ve told me that you were spoiled.
Well, I suppose a bit, like all youngest kids are. It’s true that they took care of me because I had two brothers who gave me a hard time. My two brothers have had a lot of influence on me but they were also a nightmare.
You were spoiled, but at the same time, very bad, no? I was told that you were always getting into mischief…
Yes, I was a curious kid, I was never still, always playing pranks… I had a lot of energy.
What is one prank that you will never forget?
I don’t know, because I played a lot of them. My family often reminds me of the time I set a tablecloth on fire and almost destroyed the house. I also remember one time, when my entire family was playing cards, and I hid under the table before they started playing. When they realized they didn’t know where I was, they went out looking for me, and they were out on the streets for more than an hour looking for me, until I decided to come out from under the table.
I was told about the time you put on Superman’s cape, and you headed for the window, intending to jump out and fly.
It must have been when I was very young, since I don’t remember that. But as I told you before, there were many incidents.
Tell me a bit about your brothers, about Yago, the elder one, the one who brings order.
He enjoyed being almost like a second father to me. As I said before, he’s had a lot of influence on the two of us, and I think as the oldest one, he’s the one we measured ourselves up against. He’s been the reference for my other brother Raúl and for me, anything that we saw him do, we would imitate. As I said, he’s been a very, very important person for me.
What is the best advice he’s given you?
Well, if I have this character, it’s in part due to my brothers and my parents, the part about never giving up, to fight each day for what you want. They’ve given me a lot of good advice, especially when I’ve needed them.
Raúl is the middle brother. He’s the spark, the one that brings joy…
I think he’s the most different one out of the three. Perhaps my character is more like that of Yago, and Raúl is the one that goes his own way, although we shared some great moments together. We have a very special, close relationship… as I said before, if Yago was like a second father, Raúl was the one I told secrets to, the one I confessed things to if I played some prank and had to tell someone… In addition, he lived here when I played for the cantera, my mother had lived with me, and we have a very close relationship.
Is it true that you and your brothers made a pact to name your sons after each other?
Yes, my brother Raúl already has a son named Yago, I will name my future son Raúl and Yago will name his Álvaro.
That’s great, isn’t it?
Yes, I believe it’s wonderful, and the important things is that we got our respective wives to accept this, which wasn’t easy, but it made us stronger.
And I’ve also been told that you’re the apple of your father’s eye.
I don’t think so, I don’t think so. What happened is that my father really likes football, so in that sense yes. My father has spent a lot of time on many fields, he always came to pick me up after the training sessions, and he sacrificed a lot in this sense, he went to all the games, on the trips, everything. So in this sense, yes, I am a bit the apple of his eye.
What do you remember about those car trips back home after he came to pick you up from the training sessions? What did you talk about?
Well, I believe my father has been quite demanding with his sons, he used these car rides to ask things of you, to give advice, to tell you what you did well… We had a father that… well, we didn’t deserve how good he was to us, I imagine he was like any father, he sacrificed a lot to give us the best, and I have a wonderful family, and I have nothing but good things to say about them.
Did you father believe you would get to where you are now?
My father believes I’m the best player in the world, I don’t know if all fathers are like that, but he’s always had a lot of confidence in me, more than I had in myself, for sure.
So there was never any moment when you had doubts about continuing, when things weren’t going well, and your father had to give you a push and say don’t give up, you have to realize your dream?
No, to tell you the truth, it was a long time before I realized I could be a footballer, perhaps because I’m not the type of person that dreams about things, who harbors hopes, so that later I won’t get disappointed. In terms of studies, he was also very demanding, and it wasn’t easy, when I was younger, to juggle both things. I viewed football as something so distant, so difficult, that perhaps I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. And my father always had confidence that I would make it.
Is it true that when you were younger, you wanted to give up football for basketball?
When I was very small, I wanted to play basketball. I remember we had to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I drew me playing basketball. My parents said that football was better than basketball. I don’t know what would have happened had I chosen basketball.
Did they emphasize your studies, because you always have to have a Plan B, because you need a lot of luck to get to where you have in football. Your mother did, didn’t she?
My mother was on top of everything. She was a mother who was on top of everything involving her three sons all the time. The three of us were the most important things to her, and she did everything for us. She took charge of everything, and she did everything for us. We only have one mother, and mine is the best.
What do you remember about the first time you kicked a football?
It was next to the house, we lived near the Parque de Miraflores in Zaragoza, there was a park and a school, and I played there a lot with my brother, we would take out our dog and use that time to play football. I played in school as well, from the time I was very small.
Were you good?
I wasn’t bad, I wasn’t bad. I was good at it from the time I was small, and what I liked best was winning. I’m a very competitive person and I don’t enjoy playing football, I enjoy winning. It’s something that I’ve always had, and it applies to football and all other things I do.
So the worst thing that can happen to you is losing?
Yes. I hate losing. I hate losing. In everything.
In the locker room, when things aren’t going well, everyone is serious, especially you…
I even hate losing when I play parchís with Albiol and Sergio, or with anything. I don’t like losing.
Does this competitiveness streak give you a plus to get further, is it needed in football?
Well, every person has his or her characteristics, and they have to take advantage of these. In football today, you have to be competitive, in your position, in the way you view football, you have to be competitive.
One day, Zaragoza came calling.
Yes. I was playing at school with my friends, like everyone else, and Zaragoza was interested in not only me, but also two of my friends from school. It was the first step, I spent six years with Zaragoza’s youth teams, I had some great moments, I made many friends who are still friends today, I learned a lot, I had fantastic coaches, and it was a good time in my life.
What do you remember from this time in your life, when you began to go to training sessions on a regular basis, when you began to feel like a footballer.
Well, it’s true that you feel more like a footballer or perhaps more as a professional than when you were playing in school, but I didn’t take it as seriously as some of my teammates. I didn’t have this dream of playing football, or perhaps I just saw it as a dream, something very complicated. So I didn’t take it seriously, I would go to train with my competitive character, but I continued studying, and at home a lot was expected of me. I had a good time.
Who is the best player you coincided with when you were a kid, in your neighborhood, in your school, on your team?
I think that when I was young, in my first year with Zaragoza, I played against Reyes, and that day, when I saw him, I knew that this kid would play football, because you could already see that he had some spectacular qualities. I think he was 11, I remember this game very clearly, we won but you could already see that Reyes would become a phenomenon.
And which coach from your childhood is unforgettable?
It’s difficult to say, but for sure the ones I have the most affection towards are the ones I had in school. Fernando and Miguel, I have a great relationship with them, and we still get together. I have a lot of appreciation towards them, and they also have characters very similar to mine. They’re demanding in their own way, and also very, very competitive, with this fighting spirit, a desire to win every single game. I was with them for two years, and I have a ton of affection and appreciation for them.
It’s clear that when a footballer reaches the elite, when he plays for Real Madrid, his life changes completely. But it’s nice to remember those people from the past, such as the first coaches you had, and your childhood friends.
They’re difficult to forget, they’re people I’ve known since I was four years old, and they’re extraordinary people.
What are they doing now?
Each one has his work, in the end each one settled down. I’m lucky to have the same friends now as I did when I was four, I don’t think many people can say that, and I’m proud of that because I know that I can count on them for anything.
I’m sure they look up to you for where you’ve gotten, what do you look up to them for?
Many things, because although I’ve gotten very far, they’ve all managed to overcome adverse situations, difficult moments, moments of doubt, and they managed to overcome these. They’re very honest people, I laugh a lot with them, I have a great time with them. There might be times when we lose touch, but they are people who are always there for me.
What moments from your childhood are unforgettable? We all have certain memories…
Well, I don’t know, I told you I don’t have many memories of my childhood for how bad I was, but I had some great times with them in school, and I imagine that these are the things we remember from our childhoods, the moments in school.
You played really well in Zaragoza, then Aragón’s provincial team came calling, as well as the Spanish national team. You played in all the categories, up to the U-21 level.
Well, I was only called up once for the U-21 team, when I was already with Real Madrid. The rest were at different ages, although I wasn’t a regular, I would go and then some time would pass before the next call-up, it’s not like it is now with the senior national team.
What do you remember from the day when you found out Real Madrid was interested in you?
It wasn’t easy for me, it was a difficult step to take for me. I had to begin taking football more seriously, it changed my entire life. I was already going out with the woman who would become my wife, Carlota, we had been together for a little more than a year, and so it wasn’t easy. I left my family behind, and I was very, very close to them, my girlfriend, so it was a difficult step to take, although I knew that it was a great opportunity. It was a complete change in my life, but I think we were brave in making this decision, we had to sacrifice many things but it was worth it in the end.
When I talked to players such as Pepe or Cristiano, they told me that moving to a new city was perhaps the hardest times of their lives, because they were alone, they were still children, because they didn’t have their families with them, and many of you are very close to your families. Is it true that you had a bad time of it, though you’re conscious that it’s something you have to do to make it as a footballer?
I wasn’t that young, I think I was already 18 years old. But it’s true that I was very close to my parents, my brothers, my girlfriend who is my wife now, my friends, and it wasn’t an easy step to take. In addition, it was also a responsibility because you had to take football seriously now, that you had to give everything to get to where you wanted to go, so the leaving, the feeling of loneliness, you had to assume this responsibility and it’s not easy.
What do you remember from your time at Castilla?
I have great memories. I had some fantastic years in the youth teams of Madrid, and in the end, one of the best things that football gives you is the friendships. I had teammates with whom I shared wonderful moments, many great moments on the field but also off of it, I have great friendships.
Well, it’s difficult to mention everyone, but I have a fantastic relationship with Roberto Soldado, my wife is the godmother of one of his kids. Also Juanfran, Diego López, Filipe, Álvaro Negredo, Borja Valero, Javier Paredes, Roberto Trashorras… I can name almost an entire team because it’s true that I got along well with almost everyone. And it makes you happy to see that all of them are reaching their potential and proving that they’re great footballers.
Then it appeared that the door to the first team was closed to you, and you decided to go to Depor.
Yes, I thought it was time. Now that I think about it, I think perhaps I didn’t wait a long time before leaving Real Madrid, in making this decision that I had to leave because I couldn’t make it to the first team. I tried to do that as a canterano, and as I told you, if I didn’t try this, I would be left thinking “what if.” I believe it was the appropriate step to take for my career, not only saying that it was difficult to make it for the first team and that I had to leave, but also going to A Coruña. I was there for only six months, but it was a great six months, I had a coach, Caparrós, who had blind faith in me, he told me I was going to play, that I had his confidence to prove whether I was worth it or not, and he gave that to me. Luckily, things went well for me, and I was also lucky to have the opportunity to work with great players, to learn from Lopo and Andrade, I also coincided with Juan Carlos Valerón, who is in my opinion one of the best footballers I’ve ever played with, and I’ve played with many Ballon d’Or winners, and I believe Valerón belongs in that group. I was very lucky, not only in making the right decision to leave, but in also choosing the right place to go.
You were there for six months, and you were looking for a house to buy and if I’m not mistaken, you were commissioning a kitchen, and then you had to sit down with your wife and say, wait a moment because we’re going to Liverpool.
I left on a Monday, and by Wednesday I had already signed all the paperwork for a house in A Coruña. The opportunity to go to Liverpool came up suddenly and I left with just the clothes on my back, as you say in these situations.
And how was your time in Liverpool?
Well, it was great. It was an amazing experience. I was there for two and a half years, and it’s something that I would advise any footballer to do. I was lucky enough to get playing time in one of the most special clubs in the world. Right now the one I’m in is perhaps the greatest, but Liverpool is a very, very special club. It was also a very positive experience on the personal level, since I got to know another culture, learn another language, experience another way of life. And in terms of football, playing in Anfield is an experience that has shaped me a lot as a footballer. I was also lucky enough to play with great footballers, like in A Coruña, and I had a great coach.
What did you contribute to Liverpool?
I had the opportunity to play at a high level, to play in the Champions League, to play for the Premier League title, with very talented players. I believe that was what helped me to grow quickly as a footballer. The coach also changed me, because I had been playing as a centerback, and it was Rafa who changed me and put me as a fullback. I believe that going from A Coruña to Liverpool was the step that changed my sporting career the most.
And then came the opportunity to return to Real Madrid. I’m going to reveal a secret: your father said, you’re going to return to Real Madrid when Florentino Pérez returns to the presidency of Real Madrid.
Yes, we’ve joked about this a lot. My father was always going on about how when Florentino Pérez returns, you will too. There were two or three years when we joked about this, and in the end, the president returned and I was able to return as well. I had never imagined it would turn out like this, since I knew that if I left Madrid, it would be very difficult to return, I didn’t have any clauses in my contract saying Madrid could take me back or anything like that. And since I closed that door, returning was something unforeseeable. When I found out, I was obviously very, very happy.
What does Real Madrid mean to you?
Well, to me it’s the height of a profession in the sense that if you aspire to something big, to do the biggest thing you can in your profession, to get to the highest point you can get to in your profession, being at this club is being at this highest point. You’re with the best professionals in the world, you’re part of a very, very important project, perhaps the most important one Madrid has undertaken in its entire history, and so for me, being here is an honor and something I’m proud of.
And you’re in love with the city of Madrid.
Yes, I like Madrid a lot, that’s clear. My job allows me to enjoy this city a lot, and I believe everyone loves Madrid.
What are you like at home, with your family, your wife, your daughter?
Well, I don’t know, perhaps you should ask my wife and my daughter. But… I don’t know, well… probably a normal person, we spend as much time as we can together because with so much travel and so many games, it’s hard to find time to spend together, so we take advantage of the time we have together.
We spoke about the importance in your life of your parents and your brothers, but it’s also important to have someone to give you stability, support when things go badly, and that’s Carlota. It’s very easy to praise a footballer, to say the things he wants to hear, but it’s difficult to say the things he doesn’t want to hear.
That’s what my wife is there for, no? Perhaps she does that more than I would like. We started going out when I was 17, and now I’m 28, so it’s been a lot of time. I feel very lucky to have met her, you can’t choose your family, but you can choose this person. I feel very fortunate in this sense. She’s helped me a lot, more than I have helped her, and she’s been an enormous source of support for helping me to get to where I am, she’s always there for me, and perhaps she’s sacrificed a lot of her life for me, there are many things that she would have liked to do but couldn’t because of me. It’s clear that a big part of my success is due to her.
And then there’s Alba. I was told that you wanted a son, so that you could play with him, but then came Alba and you’re absolutely thrilled with her.
Yes, I absolutely adore her, and I wouldn’t change her for anything in the world. It’s true that I wanted a son, and we were even told that it was going to be a boy, two or three times, and when we found out it was a girl, we were like, how could this be? But she’s turned out to be very much of a tomboy, she’s a rascal, she never stops. Both of us adore her. She’s amazing. We hope to have a boy one day, but Alba, I’m absolutely thrilled with her.
The Arbeloa family also includes three dogs, and when I talk with you in the mornings, you’re out walking the dogs.
They’re almost as much work as my daughter. We started out with Sawyer, whom we got while we were in Liverpool, and when we got married, my brother Raúl gave us the second one as a gift, Mulder, and the last one, Bauer, we got this past Christmas, and I think that’s enough, we’ve stopped, three is enough.
You’re quite absentminded.
Yes, very. Very. I lose absolutely everything. My mobile, my wallet, my keys, my sunglasses…
What’s the biggest moment of absent-mindedness you’ve had in your life?
Well, I don’t know. I always remember that one time with the suitcase, but it wasn’t my fault, it was the fault of the taxi driver, who…
What happened? Tell us.
Well, I think everyone already knows this, but… it happened when I was joining up with the national team, before the Eurocopa. I got off the taxi, and immediately the press put their microphones in my face, and I was answering questions, so I didn’t realize that the taxi driver hadn’t gotten off the taxi and had left with my suitcase. I continue to say that it wasn’t my fault, I’m sure I’ve had worse episodes.
And the Arbeloa family is not complete without the grandmother, the famous grandmother who has practically become the grandmother of Spain, thanks to your friend San Bernardino and the unpaid phone bill.
Well, unfortunately, she’s the only grandmother that we still have with us, and we have a lot of affection for her, especially me. As everyone now knows, I call her after every game, she gives me her opinion, she tells me what she liked and what she didn’t like… I have a very good relationship with her, and I hope it will last a long time, because we have a lot of affection for her and we love her a lot.
Is she very knowledgeable about football?
She has no idea, but she tells me I should have moved more or less. She tells me, I heard this, they said this, she tells me what the commentators said.
You have a soft spot for her.
Yes, yes, I have a lot of affection for her, I’m very fond of her, and all of Spain now too. They’ve gotten to know a bit what she’s like, the love she has for me, how she defended me, imagine how it is for her since she’s in Barcelona, what she has to put up with.
She has to fight.
I’ve also been told that you’re very affectionate, but also reserved. When you have a problem, you don’t like to tell anyone, you prefer to keep it inside.
It was my wife who told you this, wasn’t it? I think that it is a trait that everyone in my family has, my brothers and I imagine my parents as well. We are people that when we have a problem, we try to resolve it ourselves to not let it affect the people around us, so they won’t have to worry, and so yes, in this sense, I am very reserved.
However, in the locker room, you’re one of those who talks when it’s necessary.
Yes, I have this character, I was a captain of Castilla which helped me to know how to create team union, form the piña, talk with everyone, and I still have this character now.
In this locker room there are two captains, who are Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas. There are also Marcelo and Gonzalo Higuaín. What characteristics does a good captain need to have?
Well, a lot of personality. I believe one has to have a lot of personality, and has to win the respect of others. I think it is very important for the others to have respect and admiration for the captain, and that’s how it is in our case. It’s not easy being a captain, much less one of Real Madrid. It’s a very complicated task because you’re in the middle of the players, the coaching team, the club, you have to know how to be a good leader whenever there’s a problem, you have to be a point of union between the coaching team, the club, the players. Your teammates demand a lot from you, but you have to know how to demand things from them as well. I think it’s something that’s very complicated, and people don’t realize that.
One week ago, José Callejón sat there and said that this locker room is the best one he’s been in, that he’s been in great ones, but that this one is different.
Well, this one is special and different, we’re lucky to have great players who are also great persons. They’re great professionals and people with a lot of hunger to win things, which I believe is the most important thing. These are people who have a desire to work hard, to be professional, to take care of themselves, and contribute to this good atmosphere. That’s what we have in Real Madrid.
A lot has been said about the crises, divisions, groups in this locker room.
Well, I’ve had to deny this several times already, but many people think that a Real Madrid player is not going to come out and say that the locker room is divided. What worries me is what the fans may think. I believe there are three options: believing what the press says, believing me when I say that we’re united, or the third option, which is what I advise people to do, which is to wait and see for themselves whether we’re united or not, on the field. In that way, I think the fans can see that we’re united, because we’re going to show it on the field.
It’s even been said that Cristiano and Casillas don’t get along.
Well, I believe…
Not long ago, there was a supposed piece of news that…
In Spain, there are many people in the media, radio, press, TV… there are great professionals, but I believe that certain sectors of the press are going down what is the wrong path in my opinion. The fans can get the wrong idea, you can’t say that there are problems between Cristiano and Iker because there are some photos… I believe they’re going down the wrong path. You can’t use some images of the bench to say that I didn’t want to go warm up when they’re from moments where we were joking around about how the míster sent six out to warm up and since we couldn’t all warm up at once, three of us had to go out first, then the next three. You can’t say that we went to celebrate Raúl Albiol’s birthday and that we didn’t invite Esteban Granero because he’s a close friend of Mou, and then later there are photos of Esteban Granero going into the celebration. I believe that journalists should be very careful about these things. When they report information, they have to verify it, they have to know what they’re saying and in this sense they’re not being fair with Real Madrid a lot of the time. I don’t believe they can say, while 18 coaches in the first division are rotating players, ours is punishing people. They have to realize that they need to be a bit more objective. I believe that none of us in Real Madrid ask for favorable treatment from the press, we agree that when we play badly, they can say Real Madrid has played badly, we very much agree with the football debate, but with other things such as these, we’re not in so much agreement.
You said that it hurts you to hear some of the things that have been said about this team, but imagine what is written about José Mourinho. What is José Mourinho like?
Well, I can tell you what I’ve always said, that he’s a person who knows how to separate the personal and professional relationships really well. He’s a person capable of getting everything out of you, and later on, he’s capable of speaking with you about anything. There are times when I believe he feels like one more footballer out there. He has a double role… and more than separating, I think he knows how to mix these things, and that’s very important.
What has he given to Real Madrid?
A lot of character, a lot of desire to exceed ourselves, a lot of ambition, and those were things that perhaps we all lacked, as this is a very young team and so perhaps we needed a push, and that’s what the míster has given us.
Cristiano Ronaldo has also received a lot of criticism, and I always say that when Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer in Real Madrid, people will realize what he meant to Real Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a sensational, incredible footballer. The problem that he has is that anything he says can be interpreted in many different ways, but it’s always exaggerated, everything is exaggerated, and that’s why he has a very complicated role.
What are your feelings about this team for this season?
Well, I have good feelings, I was in the press room the other day saying that in order to achieve our objectives, we need to be patient, and I’ll continue saying that, that we need to take things one step at a time. We realized that over the last 10 days, with Levante and Racing, that nothing is easy, that we can’t be looking ahead to May, that we have to focus on the next game, that we have to play against Espanyol in a very complicated game, in a stadium that we know has always been very difficult for us, and well, that’s important. We have to work hard every day, and that’s what will allow us to achieve our goals.
What can this team aspire to this season?
Well, I think this team aspire to everything. This team can aspire to everything in all the tournaments, and we have a lot of desire. But as I told you, I am a person that perhaps doesn’t like to look at the long term, because I don’t think that achieves anything. I understand that expectations are high, for the potential of the club and the players, because we know that last year we won the Copa del Rey but people want more, they want the Champions League, they want the Liga, and obviously we do as well, so we’re not running away from that. Saying that the next step is playing Espanyol is not saying let’s see what happens. I believe that we’re very aware of the fact that we want to win everything, but we’re also very aware of what we need to do to achieve it.
The fans seem to be very close to the team…
Very, very close…
… the Bernabéu is with the team, do you feel that union between the fans and the team?
Yes, very much so. I’m very much in contact with them through social networks, more than they believe, and this may be in part due to our coach, who has managed to get the fans behind the team. Perhaps the fans were characterized by the fact that when things go badly, they are demanding, but right now, when things aren’t going too badly, they’re with us. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for this tremendous support and tell them how important this is for us.
And you want to tell them what about this team and this season?
That this team is definitely not going to disappoint them this season. I don’t think that will happen, and they’ll be able to see how we will give it our everything to be with them at Cibeles in the end, which is what we want, and perhaps to return to them all this confidence that they have in us, all this support and all this affection that they’re giving us now, we want to return this to them in the form of titles if possible.
This table where we hold the interviews has messages from the players. Can you leave us with a souvenir from this interview while listening to your song? You’re a great professional in the locker room, your teammates know that, all the fans know that, because in addition, they know that in each game, you will give it everything you’ve got as a footballer, and that it’s also an honor that someone like you is part of Real Madrid, because it’s very needed.
Well, thank you very much.
Finish up with your message. Knowing you, I’m sure it’s not anything ordinary, that it’s something special…
No, no, no.
It’s been a real pleasure, thank you for being here.
The pleasure has been mine.
Álvaro also did an interview in English.
Hello Álvaro, thank you for joining us. You come in a week when Real Madrid already have six points in the Champions League. No goals conceded. This is all after two games. You’re Group D leaders, one foot in the last 16… What’s the key to such a strong start in Europe?
We know it’s really important to start well. It’s really important to win the first two or three games in the Champions League because after that you are more confident. We know this because we have experience in the Champions League, we know that the first two or three games are really important. We are now in a good position.
How do you see your chances this season in the Champions League?
We know it is a difficult trophy and that there are a lot of good teams, but we feel comfortable with our possibilities. Also, playing our next games already having six points makes things easier.
Then there’s also the league. Real Madrid also came close to winning last season. How do you see it going this year?
We know the league is not easy because there are many quality teams. Barcelona are a strong team, but we’re united and want to win the league. I think we’re playing much better than last season. We have to keep going and think about our next game and play some good football.
Last season Jose Mourinho led Real Madrid further than they’ve been in seven years in both cup competitions. You went on to win the Copa del Rey. What was it like to beat Barcelona in the final and to win a trophy with Real Madrid?
It was good. I have good memories of that game. It was really nice. I’d like to repeat this in the Champions League, in the league and everything else because it’s such a special feeling. I’d like to repeat it all again.
It was a good twelve months for you and nine months before that you won the World Cup with Spain. It’s a cup that so few people get to realize the dream of winning. What was that like?
It was a dream come true, it was so special. It was really important for the whole country and for us too. I think I’ll never be able to forget the World Cup because it was really special for Spain and for all the players.
Tell me a little bit about your time in England. You are one of the few players at Real Madrid who spent time playing in the Premier League. What was it like at Liverpool?
I was there two and a half years and have good memories because everything at Liverpool was perfect: the fans, the city, the team… For me, one of the best things in the world is to play at Anfield. It’s a great experience. I don’t know what to say, the only thing I can really say is that I felt great there and I want to say thank you to all the fans at Liverpool.
You are a product of the Real Madrid cantera. After stints at Deportivo La Coruña and Liverpool you came back as a first team regular. What was that like?
It’s very special for all the players who come from the cantera to play for Real Madrid. When you play in the youth sides you know how difficult it is to reach the first team, so it’s special to me of course. I’m really happy now to play for the best team in the world. I’m enjoying myself and really happy.
One season after you did come back to Real Madrid José Mourinho came in. Now, on this very show we asked him if any player in particular impressed him since he came here and he said you. He said that you’re the type of player that every coach wants on his team because he can always rely on you. How does it feel to have a coach of José Mourinho’s caliber, your coach, to say that about you?
José Mourinho is a really important manager. We all know that. I regard him as one of the best in the world and I can learn lots of things from him. His character is really important for us. We are very lucky players to be working with him and want to continue doing so.
Last year we saw some new players coming in under him who developed very quickly, players like Mesut Özil. What do you think of the players who came in and how quickly they progressed here?
They are great quality players. Mesut is a fantastic player, and so are Sami Khedira, José Callejón, Nuri Sahin… We have 23 to 25 players on the squad, and are all great, so we I think we have a good team.
We’ve seen Real Madrid over the last two seasons, particularly in the pre-season as well, working so well in defence, midfield and attack. You’ll be playing a key role this season as well. How motivated are you all at the moment?
I feel good and want to help the team all the time. I think we have confidence in ourselves and must keep working hard. The same applies to me. In order to win titles you must work hard every day.
What are your hopes for the season both personally as a player and as a team member?
As a player one wants to play many games and help the team. I think those are the only things players want to do. As a team we want to win every title. We know it will be really difficult, but we’ll try.
Thanks for your time Álvaro.
Thank you [Álvaro looks like he really wants to leave at this point].