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Raúl Albiol – the Real… interview

November 21, 2011
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Well, we found out the reason why it took so long for Raúl Albiol to appear on the Real… series – it was because he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to last through the interview without cracking up!  If that – plus the fact that he turned up in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tee – doesn’t make you love El Chori (more), then there’s no hope for you.  This was a fun interview, despite Óscar’s constant interruptions, and it just makes me want to hang out with Raúl.  However, I was disappointed that he didn’t do the interview in English as well, as he is taking English classes (it’s good to see that he’s fulfilling his World Cup promise, unlike some other people who so far have not jumped naked out of a plane…).  By the way, I thought my time would be better spent translating this interview than doing the ICYMI for the Valencia game, since a million people have already giffed (is that a word?) their way through that game.  I might get around to it eventually though…

“When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge is the song you chose to start this interview.  Good evening, and welcome to RMTV.

Good evening, and thank you very much.

Why this song?  I suppose it has something to do with your wife, Alicia, because I don’t believe it’s about a friend…

Yes, it’s my wife’s favorite song, and I also like it a lot.  What better way is there to start this interview than with this song?

Yes, Óscar got her name right!

You had some doubts over whether to do this interview, because you were afraid that you wouldn’t be able to control your laughter.

Yes, because I laugh really easily so I didn’t know whether the interview would turn out well or not.

I’m sure it will turn out well.  But it’s true that you’re always laughing, no?  That’s what your life is like, no matter whether you’re feeling good or not, whether you’re playing or not.  There are moments when you have to be serious, such as when you play poorly or the team loses, but you’re like the Spanish Marcelo, always laughing [or would Marcelo be the Brazilian Albiol?].

Well, I always try to be in a good mood and to be as happy as I can be.  But it’s true that everyone can have their good days and bad, and I also have some sad days, but I try to enjoy life, every single day.  I’m lucky to have this job, I like what I do and so I try to enjoy it as much as I can.

Speaking of enjoying your work, are you aware of how far you’ve come?

Yes, we’re privileged people because we have the opportunity to play for Real Madrid and to be able to spend each day at this club.   You have to enjoy each day as much as you can because time goes by quickly and before you realize it, the season is ending.

When I was planning this program, I asked myself, is it possible to do this interview without also bringing Arbeloa in?  The two of you are inseparable!  You’re like brothers.

Well, I have him close by, his signature is here [referring to the interview desk].  I do have a good relationship with him, we met through the national team before the Eurocopa in 2008, he’s my “media naranja” (better half) in football.  I hope to have many more years with him.

Unfortunately, there was no more talk about the relationship between Zipi and Zape.

There’s one very special thing about you.  I haven’t seen many footballers win over a group as fast as you have.  And you did that just by being yourself.  There’s no one in the locker room of Real Madrid who is more loved than you.

Well, I believe I have great teammates, who are great people.  I was lucky enough to join a group who treated me well, who welcomed me with open arms immediately, and I’m very happy here.  I always try to act normally, to be the same person I’ve always been, and to have a lot of respect for those around me.  I’ve never had any problems in the locker room, and hopefully it will always be like this.

All your teammates coincide that you’re a good person.

Well, I also hope they think that I’m a good player, no?

As a person, you’re a great one, and as a player, you’re great as well, although you are criticized a lot.

It’s nice when your teammates have good things to say about you and value you as a person.  As I said before, I’m very happy with this group.  I remember the first day I entered the locker room, I was a bit timid, because I didn’t know what the people were going to be like.  But everything was really easy, I’m happy here and I feel like I’m at home.

People are interested in your roots.  You come from a small village in Valencia, Vilamarxant.  It’s a wonderful village, the kind where you want to stay and live always.  Tell us about Vilamarxant.

Well, Vilamarxant is a very small village, and although it’s grown a little in the last few years, the population is still less than 8,000.  Everyone there knows each other, and the lottery administration office that my parents run is there.  They’ve been doing that for 20 years now.  When I go back there, it’s like returning to my childhood, when I would go with my friends to play football in the park, out on the streets.  It reminds me of those childhood moments.

Tell us about the Albiol family, and where you lived.

Well, we started off in a very small apartment in the town, then we moved to a house, which was slightly bigger.  Then we moved again, we moved three times in total, because my brother Brian came along and so we didn’t fit in that small house anymore.  We moved to a bigger house.  After school, we would go to the store where my parents had their business, and we would play football on the street in front of the store.  After that, we’d go home.  That was our life from Monday to Friday: school, lottery administration office and home.  I’ve always been very family-oriented, and my family has always been very united.  I’m very happy to have been brought up there.

Tell me about your mother.  Even your father admits that she’s the boss of the household.

Yes, my mother [he looks just like his mother in this moment!], what can I say about her… both my mother and my father have been very important for me because they taught me everything I know, my way of being, humility, hard work, to always respect others and not hurt anyone.  They also helped me to achieve my dream, which was to play football.  They’ve always been there for me in both the good and bad moments.  That’s why I believe you have to always love your parents and take care of them, and hopefully my daughters will also take care of me [jajaja!].

Part of the reason why you’re a footballer is due to your parents.

Yes, because my father played football…

Where did he play?

Well, in that era, players often changed teams, and he played for Mestalla, for Sabadell in the second division, so football was a big thing at our house.

Was he a central defender?

He was a midfielder.  In that time, you had to work and play football at the same time, and that was what my father did, as well as other things.  It’s not like now, where you can dedicate yourself solely to football.  My older brother is also a footballer, so we always had a ball at home.  They’re the ones who showed me how to play football and taught me about this sport.

Your older brother is Miguel and the younger one is Brian.  Is it true that he was named after Brian Laudrup?  Is it true that the two of you convinced your parents to name your brother Brian?

Yes, because “vino de penalti Brian.”  My mother was almost 40 when she had Brian, and so his arrival was a surprise.  We always wanted to have a younger brother, well I always wanted to have a younger brother, but it wasn’t easy for my mother at that age.  But in the end, it was a great joy and surprise for us.  My father told my brother Miguel and me that we could choose the name for the baby.  At that time, we liked Denmark’s team a lot, because we liked Michael Laudrup a lot.  My brother Brian was born in 1994, and in 1992, Denmark had won the Eurocopa.  We really liked the Laudrup brothers, and since “Miguel” is “Michael” in Spanish, we decided to name our brother Brian.  I know the name sounds a bit American, but in the end, everyone liked it.  However, we did have to speak with the priest to make sure that he could baptize him, but as he was a friend, there wasn’t a problem.

Love this story.  I can see little Miguel and little Raúl explaining to their father that they want to name their new brother Brian.

What is the best piece of advice your father or your mother gave to you when you were a child?

Let’s see, the best advice… it was just to be humble, and to always work hard, no matter if things were going well for you or badly.  You have to always work hard, to know what it is that you want, to always respect everyone else, and to never give up.  When you’re going through a bad time, you have to continue fighting and to give it everything you’ve got.  This has helped me to get to where I am now in football, and to continue, because I consider myself a young person and I have a lot left to do.

We also have to let everyone know that when you were younger, you weren’t the saint, like Casillas, that you appear to be now.  You organized parties for the other kids, and collected money to buy drinks, lights, music…

It went more or less like that.  What happened was my house, well, my parents’ house, included a cottage.  When I was 13 or 14, I set up a nightclub there for my friends, my classmates.  During weekends, everyone would come by to dance, and things like that.  Everyone had to pay 500 pesetas [about €3] so that we could buy lights, cassettes, everything.  I would go buy those things, but there was a lot of money left over, and so I decided to buy myself a Playstation game that cost 8,000 or 9,000 pesetas, Jersey Devil.  I didn’t have enough of my own money saved up to buy it, so I used the leftover money to buy it.  Later on, my classmates asked me where the rest of the money was, and I told them that I had spent it on a game.  So after that, they went to the lottery administration office every day to ask my mother for the money.  My poor mother had to return the money bit by bit, and so in the end, that game ended costing me a lot.

How is it possible to burn a puppet for the Fallas before the actual Fallas?

Well, it is possible.  Two days before the Fallas, a friend and I were kicked out of class, I remember it was a catechism class and we were to receive communion.  They kicked us out and we were a bit pissed off.  We had been working on a puppet for the Fallas, which was to take place shortly.  We decided to burn it ahead of time since we were a bit upset that we had been kicked out.

I bet they made him zip up his jacket so the shirt couldn’t be seen…

Do you remember the lottery kiosk in Vilamarxante?  I suppose you spent a lot of time there.

Yes, because as I told you before, I would go to my parents’ store after school, and stay there until it closed, from around five in the afternoon to nine at night.  I would play out on the streets there, and I spent every day there.  For me, that was like my second home, and returning there brings back a lot of memories.  I sit on a bench and think about how I used to play there as a kid, kicking the ball around, many things.  By the time I was four or five, I was already playing football.  I would kick the ball around and then go into the store to get a lollipop, since I liked them a lot.  I would run in, take a lollipop and run out to play.  My father joked about how the lollipops must be making me stronger.  But one day, I got one that was a bit sour, and so that was the end of my love affair with lollipops.  I was also too old to be eating them by that time.

What was the first football field you played on like? 

I played in my village, and later on, when I signed up to join a football team, at the age of eight or nine…

Ribarroja.

Yes, because in Vilamarxant, there weren’t any teams for kids that young, and so I went to the neighboring village.  I was there for two years, then I returned to Vilamarxant and played for Vilamarxant for one year.  I was very happy there, because as soon as the games were over… when I was a kid, the games were in the morning, and so you could go directly to the bakery to buy breakfast.  I would have a great time with my classmates.  Then when I was 12, I had the opportunity to try out for Valencia.  And from that time on, I played with Valencia, starting with the infantil team.

What are your former teammates from Vilamarxant doing now?

Working, each one had to find a way to make a living.  It makes me happy to see them doing well, to know that they’re happy.  I keep in contact with them, and each time I go back, I try to see them.

There, you’re just one more guy, not Raúl Albiol, the Real Madrid player [look at El Chori’s expression here!]. 

Yes, I’m just one more guy there in the village, and I always like to see everyone, since I haven’t seen them in a long time.  It’s always emotional to go back and run into people that you knew as a child.  Whenever I can, whenever I have vacation, I always go back to Vilamarxant.

Were you the best player out of your group of friends?

Well, I had a rivalry with another player who was very good.  The people in the town would discuss who was the better one; some said he was and others said I was.  But these are cosas de niños.  When you’re a child, you don’t know whether someone is going to grow up and become a footballer or not.  The path to that is very long, and many things can happen.  Or it can be the opposite – you might not be a star when you’re young, but later on you take a big leap and everything changes.  In this aspect, it really helped me a lot to be part of Valencia’s system, and bit by bit, without shining a lot, I moved forward and up, being promoted to the next team, and here I am now.

What were your dreams as a child?

My dream was to be a footballer, to play in the first division.  I watched many games at home, I hardly ever went out, I would watch games on Saturday nights with my parents.  I remember I would bet on the results, which was easy for me to do, since my parents ran a lottery administration office.  I could bet as much as I wanted.  So my weekends would consist of watching games and betting on the outcomes.  I hardly ever went out.  My dream was to see myself playing football on that TV one day.

Jajaja!  Our boy didn’t have much of a social life, did he?

Who was your idol?

My father always liked Fernando Hierro a lot.  He always talked to me about Fernando Hierro.  I liked Michael Laudrup, Zamorano… the Real Madrid of that time, from the games that I could watch.  Then again, I changed my favorites a lot.  I could like one player, but if he hit a rough patch, I would change to another one.

People know you as one of Real Madrid’s centerbacks, but you started out as a midfielder.

Yes, but that was a long time ago.  I played as a midfielder from the time I started until I debuted in the first division, but it will be difficult for me to play there now.  It was Quique Sánchez Flores who put me in the new position of centerback, and I felt comfortable there, so I try to learn about and improve in this position so that I can continue improving.

Valencia took you from Vilamarxant, and you kept getting promoted until when you were 18, you debuted with Valencia’s first team.  

Yes…

If I’m not mistaken, it was a UEFA Cup game.

Yes.  With Valencia, I had a two-week long tryout for the infantil team.  I remember that I didn’t sleep for the entire two weeks, since I was so nervous and worried about whether I would pass the tests.  The two weeks were spent training, and after that they would tell me whether I was accepted for the infantil team or not.  I remember that I showed up for the tryout wearing a Milan shirt, that of Van Basten, with the number nine on the back, the white boots of Alfonso… and they told me I had to change my shirt since this was Valencia, not Milan.  And later on, yes, I debuted when I was 18 and I trained…

How many of the kids from the tryout were selected?

I think the squad had 20 players or so, and only seven or eight stood out.  Around 30 kids tried out, and one by one, they would tell you whether you made it or not.  Rafa Benítez gave me my debut, I was on the youth team and he called me up to the first team quite often to train.  One day, he called me up for a UEFA Cup game in Sweden against AIK Solna.  I played just one minute but it was a wonderful minute.  I remember that I entered the game, a foul was called and the game ended.  I count the UEFA Cup [Valencia won that edition, in 2004] among my trophies, but I really had little to do with it.  But anyway, I was really happy because I was very young.

Then you went on to Getafe.  What do you remember about the car accident that you were in, when you were driving to Madrid to be presented as a Getafe player?

Yes, I remember practically everything.  I think the presentation was scheduled for six in the evening.  I had packed my suitcases and had everything prepared, such as my boots.  At first, we were going to go in my father’s car, but there were some problems with it, so we took my agent’s car.  I had my seat belt on, and when we were halfway there, I took it off to check my backpack, to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.  Then I started reading Marca, and I forgot to put the seat belt back on.  I remember that it was raining, and suddenly, while reading the newspaper, I heard the driver scream, and the car braked very hard.  I don’t remember anything after that, as I must have blocked it all out.  When I opened my eyes again, I was already in the helicopter.  The truth is that it was a bad moment and…

It was rough, no? 

Yes, it was rough because I was very young, I was very excited to play in the first division with Getafe… I remember that three days after that, we were to play a game against Real Madrid in Alicante against Zidane, Figo, and the rest of the stars.  I was very excited to play in this game, and now this happened.  I spent about one month in the hospital… a rough time for me.

I wanted you to talk about this not to make you sad, but to show you how life is.  In one moment, it can seem that everything is ending, that you’re not going to have the opportunity to play against Real Madrid and their stars three days after being presented as a Getafe player, but now… look at where you are now.  What did you learn during that month you were in the hospital?

I learned how to be strong, because I didn’t want to see my parents or my brothers suffering, since I could see that they were suffering.  Of course, I also wanted to recover and play football again, but the suffering of my parents… my father held me for 20 minutes on the freeway while they waited for the helicopter, the ambulance to arrive.  My father suffered so much during those 20 minutes, and that was what saddened me the most.  As for what I learned, I learned a lot, because I had a lot of time to think.  The first week, I wasn’t allowed to have any visitors, because I was in the ICU, so I was practically alone, save for the nurses, for 24 hours a day.  So you think a lot, you mature a lot, you learn a lot about how important some things are, things that you didn’t value before.  The first thing I asked when I woke up was if I could play football again because I didn’t know what they had done to me, only that I had been operated on.  I suffered a lot, but I also saw the positive aspects of the accident, and I was very fortunate to recover, because unfortunately many people don’t recover.  I also met many people in the hospital who helped me a lot.  That’s all I remember about that time and Cuenca, which is where I was in the hospital.

You were able to recover your muscular strength, and the 15-16 kilos you lost, thanks to your own strength, that of your family, and your father’s famous horse meat.

Yes, I lost 18-20 kilos.  There are a lot of anecdotes.  I remember the first day when I came out of the ICU, and they told me that I could begin walking in the hallway.  And since I was so tall, and I couldn’t stand up straight due to the operations, when I went to take a walk, there were elderly men around the age of 70 who could walk faster than me.  So I told my father that it would be impossible for me to play football again, since I couldn’t even move easily.  He told me that this was normal in the beginning, that this was just the first step.  When I went to the bathroom, I had to go with all the tubes, the machine weighed a ton, my brother held it from behind.  So even going to the bathroom or any small thing required a lot of effort.  As I told you before, you realize what the important things are.  Later on, I recovered the weight I lost by eating horse meat.  My grandfather and my father had a butcher’s shop selling horse meat, and my father always ate a lot of it, and we had it growing up, and it’s good.  The good thing about the recovery process was that I could eat whatever I wanted without having to worry about getting fat, such as hamburgers, and at any time I wanted.  In this regard, the recovery process was good, because anything that served to gain weight…

What did you feel the first time you stepped onto a field and started running after the accident?  When was this, where was it, how was the moment when you began feeling like a footballer again?

Well, I spent the month of September at home, and the only thing I was allowed to do was walk.  So in the afternoons, I would take a walk around the town.  I would put on my jacket and a hat, not so I wouldn’t be recognized, but so that everyone wouldn’t be able to see how thin I had become.  I was very weak.  I had to walk for an hour every day, so I did that, and that was the first month of my recovery, when the only thing I could do was walk.  That was good, because it helped me to think, it gave me strength.  That was the beginning of a recovery process that I knew would be tough, and bit by bit it passed by.  You can imagine how it was the first day I stepped onto a field, I wanted to do sprints, and other things.

Where was the first field that you stepped on?

It was in the Ciudad Deportiva of Valencia, I saw all these people whom I hadn’t seen in a long time, only now I weighed 65 kilos, when I normally weigh 80-some.  So I was really thin, and I didn’t like others to see me like that because they would pity me, and I didn’t like that.  So that first day was a bit complicated.

Then you began to get stronger physically, kick the ball around…

Yes…

So where were we?

Yes, I had a lot of desire to return to Getafe, and I had to go by car once more!  I wasn’t afraid, so I went by car again, with my father.  I joined Getafe in January, and the first game that I was called up for was in Valencia, against Levante.  I didn’t get to play any minutes, but just being on the bench was a reward for all the months of hard work and suffering, and being able to experience the atmosphere of a first division game was great.  The confidence that Quique and Getafe’s assistant coach, Fran Escribá, had in me was very important, they gave me more and more minutes, and that was an important step towards showing that I was capable of playing in the first division.

And then you returned to Valencia, where you had some spectacular seasons.  In 2009, Real Madrid came calling.

Well, it was a dream, because any child, any player’s dream is to play in Real Madrid.  Having the chance to sign for the best club in the world therefore makes you a bit nervous, and at the same time, you want to get the signing over with as quickly as possible to be able to say that you’re a Real Madrid player.  I was in the concentración of the national team for the Confederations Cup when it happened, and those were some great days, as many people congratulated me.  It was an important step forward in my career.

You no longer had to dream about playing against the stars, because you were going to play with Cristiano, Kaká, Benzema… What do you remember about July 2, 2009?

One day I got up and saw on the front page of the newspaper that the club had signed Cristiano Ronaldo, another day it was Benzema.  So of course it was normal that…

And one day it was Raúl Albiol.

Yes, but at that time the other signings had a bigger impact on me.  I was very excited that summer, with a lot of desire to start working hard at my new club, and to share a locker room with Cristiano, everyone.  All of them welcomed me and in the pre-season, Arbeloa joined the team, as did Xabi Alonso, whom I already knew from the national team.  That helped a bit.  I was very happy that first day.

What thing about Real Madrid has made the biggest impression on you?

Well…

Again, the interrupting!!!!!!  It’s even more annoying when it’s to add some unnecessary crap about how wonderful, great, perfect Real Madrid is.  We already know that, but when Óscar says it, he just sounds like he’s bragging, which is not a good thing.

What made you say, this could only happen at Real Madrid?

Above all else, the sheer dimension of the club wherever you go in the world.  No matter where you go, many fans are waiting there to greet you, there are people who are very excited and happy to see Real Madrid and who live for Real Madrid.  You get a sense of how big this club is, its history.  Being able to be part of the current squad, which is one of the best… you know the responsibility that you have.

What is this team capable of achieving?  There are many spectacular players and people are excited.  There is a great connection between all of you and the fans.  You can sense this each time at the Bernabéu.

Well, I believe we’re the most entertaining team at the moment.  The stadium is full for each game, and people are enjoying themselves.  We have improved a lot in many aspects this year compared to last, and I believe we can continue entertaining the fans and achieving our objectives, which is what we have to do.  I believe the team is on this path, and things are going well.

People say this team is the most entertaining one.

Yes, because with only a few touches, in a few moments, we’re able to score or create an occasion for a goal.  I believe the fans want this, for their team, especially when at home, to attack and entertain.  I believe we’re the most vertical team in the world; you only have to see the goals that we’re able to score in just a few seconds with just a few touches.  That’s one of the virtues that this team has.

It’s time to play at the Mestalla again.  This will be a special game for you.

Yes, it’s a special game because I’m from Valencia, I grew up playing for Valencia.  I’ve played many games at the Mestalla, and returning as a visitor is always special.  I’ve had the opportunity to play there during the last several seasons, and things have gone well for us there.  And hopefully things will go well for us on Saturday.  It will also be great to see people that I know there.

Everyone there loves you, from the players to the security guards to the equipment managers.

Well, I have the luck of getting along with everyone.  I’ve never had problems with anyone, so whenever I see anyone, I always greet them.  And that’s the situation in Valencia, I get along with everyone, everyone is very nice to me, they treated me very well when I lived in Valencia, so it’s always a pleasure to return to that beautiful city.

You won the Copa del Rey in the Mestalla.

Yes, because…

What a coincidence, no?  [LET EL CHORI TALK!!!!!]

Yes, it was great because it had been a long time since Real Madrid had won the Copa del Rey, and we beat Barcelona, our rival.  It was a great day, it was a great game and we all had a great time, especially all the fans who had come to support us.  It was great to see them having a good time.

What sensations does this current Real Madrid team give you?

I believe the team is much more compact and stronger, both in the defense and in the attack.  We’ve improved in many aspects, and also in our mentality.  The team knows that last year, we lost important points and so we know that this year, if we want to win the Liga, that can’t happen again.  We have more of a winner’s mentality and better concentration, we’ve improved a lot and that’s made us stronger.  It’s also the second year with the míster, we all know each other better and so we’ve taken a very important step forward towards winning titles this season.

You say the team has become stronger mentally.  This is in part due to the coach, no? 

Yes, of course…

What has Mourinho given you all? 

Seriously?  Another interruption just so Óscar can throw in another compliment about how wonderful Mourinho is?

I believe Mourinho has given us a winning character and mentality, concentration… he demands the maximum from us, he told us that we can’t relax for a single second, he makes us train hard… He’s always present, and you know that if you don’t deliver, there’s someone else waiting to take your spot.  All this has helped the team to become better prepared.  We all knew that Mourinho is a great coach, as he’s shown with his previous teams.  Seeing how he works on a daily basis proves that further.  Hopefully we will win all the titles we want this year and be able to celebrate them at the end of the season.

He says that you’re one of the most knowledgeable about football, that you’ll be a great sporting director [Raúl gets a look of disbelief on his face] because you know so much about football.  I always see you and the míster having conversations about football.

I like to know what’s going on, I like to watch games and to get to know the players.  And since I watch so many games, I remember the results, the goals, what happened, and I’m able to share this with the míster, but coaching?  I have a long way to go before I can coach.

Your wife Alicia has to put up with you watching so many games, no?  What do you do with Alicia and your daughters Alma and Azahara on a normal day after you finish training, besides watching football games?

I like staying at home, and so my wife always says to me, let’s see if one day we’ll go out and let the girls breathe some fresh air.  My wife has been a very important person in my life, the same as my two daughters.  Apart from the sentiments they have for me, they also support me, they help me during good and bad times.  They’re my family and I would do anything for them.  As for the football games, they’ve taken that away from me and now I watch cartoons, so now it’s difficult for me to watch football.

Let’s talk about your friends.  San Bernardino is one of your best friends, and he also played a joke on you once.  What a character he is.

Yes, he is a character, because his job consists of playing jokes on people, and so he can’t be anything less than a character, although he can be annoying at times!  He spends the entire morning on the phone, and he has to be very annoying.  I met him in Valencia, after he played a joke on me.  He’s a big fan of football, and we became good friends.  I’ve listen to practically all of his jokes, and I always laugh a lot, and sometimes show them to my teammates, because he wants to get famous.

And then there’s Fernando.

I met Fernando through Cristian (San Bernardino), since they’re really good friends.  They met because San Bernardino’s idol was Fernando, as Fernando used to play jokes on the radio, and San Bernardino always wanted to meet him.  Well, one day they met and from that time on, they’ve been really good friends.  And look at where San Bernardino is now, with the jokes.  And now Fernando is in Madrid, working for “El Hormiguero,” and so I have him close by.  One time we were at a restaurant, and in the middle of dinner, he suddenly started laughing like his grandmother Magdalena, saying that she laughed like this when she played cards.  And so everyone was looking at him, because they expected to see a kid laughing, but it was a 40-year-old man.

Is is true that when you proposed to your wife, you had to do it outside a castle, because the door was locked?

Yes, I’m always a bit of a disaster in organizing things.  Organizing events is complicated.  I wanted to propose to her inside a castle, but nothing worked out for me.  I think it started raining in that moment; it was a disaster.  In the end, I had to propose outside of the castle, but the most important thing was her response.  She said yes.  She liked it, although things hadn’t turned out as I had planned.  Everything has its charm.

Let’s take some fan questions.  For example, Noemi says, “hello Raúl, first, I’d like to tell you…”

Hello [adorable!].

“… that you’re a great defender.  It’s always said that Real Madrid is the best club in the world.  When you arrived, what made you think that Real Madrid was the best club in the world?”

I think it’s the way the players and their families are treated.  You see how important the club is, every little thing they do, what the players do, because they have to keep up their image.  As I said before, Real Madrid is a worldwide phenomenon, and so it has a responsibility.  In addition, there’s what they demand from you, achieving objectives, and that’s what makes you think that this is the biggest club in the world.

Carlos wants to know who you believe is the best player in the world.

For me, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo, there’s no doubt.  Watching him train and play on a daily basis… he’s the most complete player in all aspects – the way he heads the ball, the way he shoots, his speed, his character.  He always wants to win, he always wants to… sometimes he gets upset with us for teasing him during the training sessions, but that’s how it is when you’re such a great player and have achieved everything on a collective and individual basis.  So when I get old, I will look back fondly on the times when I shared a locker room with him, and I will be able to say that I saw one of the greatest players in history up close.  It’s a great thing to share a locker room with him.

Francisco Javier says, “hello, I’m a Madrid fan from Colombia.  What a great relationship you have with Iker Casillas!  He’s always talking about you on Facebook.  What kind of relationship do you have with Iker?  He’s always teasing you.”

I’m a bit tired of always appearing on his Facebook.  For me, Iker is special.  First of all, the first goal I scored in the first division was against Iker Casillas.  I always remind him of that.  He’s the best goalkeeper in the world, he’s going to break all the records, and I can always say that I scored on him, and for me, that will always give me satisfaction.  Then, being able to get to know him as a person made me see how simple and humble he is, what a great guy he is.  I remember that I also looked up to him, because like him, I’m also a country boy and open.  Having him as the captain is the best thing for us and for the club.  Having Iker Casillas as the captain is the best thing that can happen to Real Madrid.

We always end these interviews with an autograph.

Yes, I saw that.  I’m going to sign next to Arbeloa’s dedication.

Because the two brothers can’t be separated.  Raúl Albiol has won everyone over, and I hope that after this interview, people have gotten to know the real Albiol.  We’re proud to have a player like you on Real Madrid, both as a footballer, and as a person, because everyone we know says it’s a pleasure to have you.

Thank you.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2011 14:54

    YAY you are posting again!! I missed your “all set for…” post so much. 🙂 Guess I’ve got addicted to reading your blog before a match. Ok, now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’m off to read El Chori’s interview. Thanks!

  2. November 21, 2011 14:57

    Nooo, Una please I love reading about your take on the match. Please do make a “ICYMI” post for the Valencia game. Even if there aren’t any gif’s I still LOVE to read about your opinion on things!

    • Gina permalink
      November 21, 2011 15:39

      Seconded! The writing to me is funnier and more interesting than the gifs. Which of course are nice (especially when certain players are shirtless!), but you have an interesting take on things, especially for this match I’d love to hear your opinions.

  3. Jennifer permalink
    November 21, 2011 15:25

    Aaahhhh I watched this yesterday, and omg Óscar needs to learn how to INTERVIEW. Let the subjects TALK! Also the gratuitous paragraph-long question about how great Real Madrid is – if someone loves the club enough to get half an hour into an interview like this, I don’t think they need you to remind them, JUST SAYING.

    /rant

    Anyway, yes, this made me love Chori EVEN MORE. (Not that my love for him was lacking, of course.) As usual, I love the stories about childhood antics, and the story of setting fire to the falla reminded me of a certain other pyromaniac teammate. I had wondered about how Brian got his name (it does sound *very* American!) – such a cute little anécdota! And hearing him talk about the accident – it brought it back in a big way. I sort of forget that it happened, because no one ever brings it up, but it was very interesting to hear him talk about that, and the recovery process… the “viejos de setenta años que [le] pasaban como aviones” did make me crack up, though. Such a fantastic mental image. Pobrecito! The proposal story – not quite as awfully awkward as I was expecting, but still quite funny. Now, if only there had been more questions about his real “media naranja”!

    In conclusion, we ought to start a letter-writing campaign. “Out with Óscar, in with Madridista!” (Also can we start a campaign to get Athletic to do interviews like these? I’ll volunteer. I can even do makeup. And styling. And I promise to ask Javi when he’s going to jump out of a plane naked.)

    • unamadridista permalink*
      November 22, 2011 16:49

      I’m behind you 100 percent in your campaign to get Athletic on board…

  4. manie permalink
    November 21, 2011 15:38

    This was a great interview! Chori is so adorable and though it’s a shame for Alvaro’s injury, I was happy to see Raul play in Valencia.

    Like you said, Oscar gets SO ANNOYING with all the interruptions! I want to submit a question for the next one to tell him to stop interrupting players when they’re answering his questions haha.

    Thanks for the post!

  5. Ally permalink
    November 21, 2011 15:39

    El chori seems like a lovely guy! but omg, I can’t believe what his father must have went through when he was holding his wounded son for 20 minutes :O

  6. Marie permalink
    November 21, 2011 15:58

    Haha, I’m imagining the rest of the team getting pretty sick of Iker’s facebook addiction, poor things ( I love it though :P) Thanks so much for the translation!

  7. maria permalink
    November 21, 2011 16:26

    we need your ICYMI of the Valencia game… especially after the hilarious/ awesome “celebration routine” performed by mou… he’s such a character, definitely a special one!! and the game itself, was one of the most exciting and thrilling games I’ve seen lately… really entertaining!! congrats to all the team for putting up an incredible show; and also to Valencia for being so brave, not giving up and fighting until the end!! xxx

  8. November 21, 2011 16:26

    Thanks for taking the time to translate these interviews!

  9. kdm permalink
    November 21, 2011 17:37

    I just wanted to say I’ve been reading your blog for a long time (I think I found it a month after you started it) and I’d be sad to see it go. If you feel like it’s time then I guess I’ll have to respect that but I’ll be sad if you decide that. Thanks for all the great updates una!

  10. Jenny permalink
    November 21, 2011 18:02

    These are my favourite types of posts – the posts you can’t get anywhere else, so if your beautiful, flawless, stunning ICYMI have to go to keep providing us with lovable posts on our players then that’s a sacrifice I’m sure we’re all happy to make!

    This is so wonderful! I didn’t know his first goal was against Casillas! I think I even remember it now they told us it was his first goal. What a lovely coincidence!

    The song – oh god. I love it that so many of the guys picked songs their wives like! (And it’s only fair since it sounds like he spends lots of time not helping with the cooking and cleaning to watch football! Poor/Lucky Alicia!

    I love he signed next to Arbeloa!! And teasing Iker for his Facebook. I love that he talks about matches with the boss.

    That story about the party and the video game has put a smile on my face for the rest of the week!

    And his cheekbones are…wow! They are just incredible. You could rest a tea-cup on his perfect cheekbones. I leave aside his perfectly gorgeous, noble-looking nose. You could stick the Chori’s perfect profile on a Roman coin and he’d be the best looking emperor ever!

  11. Beta permalink
    November 21, 2011 18:24

    I guess he chose the wrong Turtle Ninja – he is more Michelangelo than Raphael. OMG, too much cuteness for me ^^ I need huge Albiol dosis in my life 😀

  12. Dreamlover225 permalink
    November 21, 2011 20:03

    thanks for the translation girl!!! i hope you had a great vacation!

  13. Gabriela permalink
    November 21, 2011 20:13

    the world “tortuga” will always remind me of Maldita Nerea, I can’t even associate it to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles anymore!

    I guess the lack of zipi and zape is because Oscar just couldn’t stop interrupting! Ugh!

    I love your translations, as always! 🙂 Do you work with it outside the internet? As a job or something? Because you’re amazing, muuuuch better than the one from Real Madrid’s website. And he/she/them (?) don’t even do the whole “Real…” series translations, they only do excerpts! They should hire you!

    But I also miss the ICYMI. These posts are part of my post-match rituals, it feels like something is missing if I don’t read them!

  14. Alyssa permalink
    November 21, 2011 22:12

    Personally, I was kinda hoping he WOULD have a laughing fit haha. I would have loved to see that! Still though, I did enjoy everything from the little giggles to seeing his serious side, which we all know doesn’t come around often. I would have liked for him to have been asked more about his family. I’m sure he’s a wonderful dad but he’s such a giant kid himself, it’s hard for me to imagine so I would liked to hear more about it. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when he called Arbeloa his other half! But I imagine that if Arbeloa was there to hear that he would have screaming “Oye, imbécil!” and proceeded to make fun of him haha.

    Also, my prediction:
    Sergio – Michelangelo
    Xabi – Donatello
    Arbeloa – Leonardo (or so he likes to think) 🙂

  15. November 21, 2011 22:14

    I still can’t believe that you translate these entire interviews. My brain would just be mush after doing it!

    I love Albiol. And yes, this made me love him even more 😀

  16. Pammie permalink
    November 21, 2011 23:43

    I got a HUGE soft spot for el Chori, so I’m very happy that you already translated the interview and put up with Oscar’s annoying interviewing habits. Once again it was a tremendous effort, so – many thanks to you. You rock!!

    “Yes, Óscar got her name right!” He better gets it right, he was at their wedding xD

    I too am disappointed that he didn’t ask him more about Álvaro and their friendship, I’m sure those two did all kind of stupid things, so there must be stories to tell!
    Though his childhood pranks are entertaining too. Stories of the Valencia academy would have been fun too, but I guess it wouldn’t have been in Oscar’s interest to put another club into the spot light >_>

    The story of his accident is very touching, it’s amazing that he managed to recover and continue playing top flight football, winning the euro and the world cup. :”)

    finally we hear the story of the marriage proposal! It sounds quite romantic, despite not going as planned.

    haha, I bet Raúl is not the only player who’s getting tired of Iker’s fb addiction. That’s another reason why he should get his own twitter account, so he can retaliate with photos of Iker.

    “I’m going to sign next to Arbeloa’s dedication.” aaaaawww

    Thank you again for translating!! It was a great read, funny and touching as well.

    I’ll miss the ICYMI post, but it’s your blog, so you should do what is fun for you!

  17. November 22, 2011 02:26

    I’m so so SO glad you’re posting and while I’m going to respect whatever decision you explain – I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve missed reading your “ICYMI” and “all set for” posts. Honestly, they were just a huge part of my daily routine and I will miss them hugely if you do stop but most of all I wanted to let you know how incredibly appreciative I am that you HAVE done this for as long as you have. You really are a huge part of what got me into Real Madrid when I stumbled across your con la roja blog during the World Cup and then got linked here…and the rest is history…just so you know, this is my second most viewed blog (after only facebook!) and I just, really, really love it. Thank you ❤

  18. November 22, 2011 03:36

    Loved this interview! Poor guy seemed like he was trying so hard not to laugh throughout the interview. Totally adorable! But I could tell that talking about the accident was pretty emotional for him. Seemed like he was fighting to keep the tears back. 😦 And the Mutant Ninja Turtle shirts…smh Just goes to show that guys never grow up! lol

    Thanks for the translation, Una.

  19. Ash permalink
    November 22, 2011 05:39

    awww, I really hope you get around to an ICYMI… you HAVE to have a comment or some explanation for Mou’s piggy back ride?? And all the fighting?? I’ve been anxiously awaiting your comments on this 🙂

  20. JCF permalink
    November 22, 2011 06:48

    I love Raul even more now <3. Thanks for translating!
    Although, El Chori, you should never stop appearing on Iker's Facebook!!!

  21. November 22, 2011 07:41

    hehe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I don’t even remember all their names anymore, except that Raphael is the red one (there’s Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo?? okay I’m just making names up). I love the part where he talks about how he proposed to Alicia, and then the car crash…I’d heard about it but I didn’t know just how serious it was. Thanks for translating, Una!

  22. liz permalink
    November 22, 2011 20:41

    thanks for taking the time to translate! albiol is one of my favourite madridistas and we don’t get to hear from him that often

  23. November 23, 2011 01:08

    Thanks UnaMadridista for another wonderful translation!!! I love those interviews!

    I have no time to watch it this time, but your translation with little comments;-) is so great I feel like almost watching the interview here!

    Raul is a funny nice guy. I love the story about his bro Brian! and of course -proposal, outside the castle, lovely!

    thanks again!

    PS I really know who could replace Oscar and rock those interviews instead of him, asking precise funny questions and letting people finish. Any guesses? ;-))))

  24. black widow permalink
    November 23, 2011 06:24

    this is wonderful, thank you so much!

    i love him! he’s so sweet and seems like such a genuine, nice person. 🙂 from the ninja turtles obsession (which cracks me up) to his bromance with arbeloa (they are so. cute.) to his recovery from what could have been a really tragic accident … he’s precious! i hadn’t realised his first goal was against iker, that’s hilarious and ironic! and it made me laugh to hear him talk about being tired of appearing on iker’s FB page, jajajajajaja!

    someone up above said that he looks like a roman emperor and i totally agree. there’s one profile shot in the photo series that made me think exactly that, that he looked so aristocratic and handsome that i could totally see him on a roman coin. glad to see i’m not the only one who thought that! :p

    this was a terrific translation … thanks again. 🙂

  25. Nurul permalink
    November 23, 2011 18:04

    Una, thank you so, so much for this translation, as well as all the others that you’ve worked on! I’d comment on the little things Raul has said, but I think I’ll just do that in private so as to avoid typing an entire essay. Ugh, the love I have for him is immense. <3____<3

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