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the Iker book – part VI

May 26, 2012

And we continue with the memories of Iker’s mother…

Memories of his mother: Mari Carmen Fernández on Iker.

I had Iker when I was 22 years old.  In other words, I was just a child myself.  But I’ve always been very responsible.  I studied and I worked.  I liked to plan my life very well, but my planning failed when I got pregnant.

Football doesn’t interest me in the least.  Zero.  But it seems that my life was marked by those who were around me, and they did like football.  My boyfriend, who would later become my husband, loved football, as did one of my first bosses.  I was working then in media planning, and my boss, José María Martínez Rovira, was such a big fan of football that a few years back, he ran for the presidency of Barça, which was won by Laporta.  Meanwhile, José Luis was sent to Bilbao, we got married and we went to live there.

We rented a fifth floor walk up next to the Campo Volantín, 10 minutes away from the city hall.  Our son was conceived in Bilbao and we spent the entire pregnancy there.  I gave Iker this name because it seemed very modern to me.  Very forceful.  They told me it meant “visitation.”  I read one day that it also meant “the one who brings luck.”  My mother-in-law and my brother-in-law, who lived there, recited all the Basque names they knew for me: Aitor, Gorka, Iñaki, Txema… and Iker was the one I liked the most, it resonated with me.  In addition, it seemed to me that it was quite unusual, although later on I realized there were many Ikers.

All those memories of the year and a few months in Bilbao were great.  I will never forget our neighbors Audelina and Agustín, who were from Burgos and older than us.  They helped us a lot.

However, since the beginning of my pregnancy, I knew that I wanted the child to be born and grow up in Madrid.  We had a house in Móstoles which we had purchased before we moved to Bilbao.  The truth is we just about made ends meet because we had to pay the rent on one and the mortgage on the other.

Iker was born in the Santa Cristina hospital, on O’Donnell Street, where I had also been born [I did not know that!  I used to live about two minutes from there and passed by it all the time!!  I also always assumed he was born in Móstoles.].  It was a natural birth and he weighed in at four kilos.  Everything was perfect.  We spent a month and a half in Madrid and after that we returned to Bilbao.  José Luis had to leave before us, since his vacation had ended.  We were there for one more year, more or less.  And I dedicated myself completely to my child.  We went to the park every day.  I would bring him in his stroller to the city center, and we also lived near the Universidad de Deusto.  The next summer, we returned to Madrid to stay.  First we lived for three months in my parents’ house and then in June we went to live in our house in Móstoles, where Iker grew up.

He has always been a horrible eater.  He didn’t eat anything.  He only wanted baby food from Maizena and after that, French fries.  How I suffered in trying to make him eat!  I often broke down.  And to top it off, he had a very chubby face, which was misleading.  The doctor told me many times that he was about to develop anemia, because his red blood cell count was very low.  I didn’t manage to make him eat pasta until he was three.  Later on, bit by bit, he became more of a regular eater, but he still didn’t eat much: a plate of lentils, a chicken fillet… I had to trick him, and tell him that I was going to buy him something, give him something… and so he would eat a bit.  He was very stubborn, very stubborn.  At that time, I called him “Bufio,” which was the name of a cartoon donkey.

I remember that in Navalacruz, we had to go down to Barto’s bar to get him to eat.  We would put him next to the futbolín table and between each goal, I’d give him spoonfuls.  It took an hour or an hour and a half to complete the process, so I had to heat up what was left.  Each meal cost me five pesetas, which was what the futbolín cost.  And that was after I had put cardboard in the goals so that the balls wouldn’t go in all the time, because if not, it would have cost me a fortune.  I also brought him to where there were donkeys and chickens and while he threw rocks at them and chased after them, I would give him spoonfuls of food.

Another trick that I used to make him eat was to tell him that Arconada – who had always been his idol – ate a lot of sardines and a lot of fish.  I told him, “today I spoke with Arconada’s mother and she told me that he ate all the sardines she gave him.”  Iker would rebel.  He told me I was lying, that I was a liar.  He wasn’t stupid, but between one thing or another, I managed to make him eat.  I was very ingenious.  I remember that he told me that he didn’t believe me and I told him I was going to call Arconada’s mother on the phone so that she could tell him personally.  During the South Africa World Cup, I met Arconada’s son and I told him this, and he laughed.

As Iker got older, he was happy eating French fries and fried eggs.  Ah!  And apples, he spent the whole day eating apples.  He still does that.  He eats one and gets another.  I’ve even seen him biting into apples on TV.  I called him the apple kid [remember this famous video?].

He also didn’t sleep well.  When he was three months old, we decided to put him in our bed because the sleepless nights were unbearable.  He didn’t leave our bed until he was two years old.  We slept with the covers off so that he wouldn’t suffocate, since he had to be in the middle.  After he turned two, we would put him in his own bed, but whenever he woke up and realized where he was, he would kick up a fuss.  He hated the crib.  One day when he was six months old, he got mad and he jumped out of it and fell to the ground.  I don’t know how he did it.  Since he wanted to get out of it, he would stand up and begin to bounce.  The same way he does now in the goal.  The agility of his legs was impressive, he could put them over his head.

He had an innate strength and agility.  His father and I would hold onto his hands and he would go backwards.  We didn’t know how he did it.  That’s why it didn’t surprise me to see him jumping around in the goal.  He began to walk at an early age, around eight and a half months.  No one taught him, he learned how to do it by himself.  He supported himself on the wall and walked from one side to another with very short steps.  I spent the entire day chasing after him.  When I turned around, he was always no longer where I had left him sitting on the floor.

His first kit was one of Athletic Bilbao, a red and white shirt and black shorts.  My sister Teresa and her husband Félix gave it to him.  The second kit he received was a goalkeeping one, when he was around three year old.  I always believe it was a Real Madrid one, but my husband says the colors were the ones preferred by Arconada.  The shirt had long sleeves and there was no name on the back.  Whenever Iker went to the park to play, he always had to go wearing a football shirt.  He didn’t want to go with any other one.  Since he was a big kid, it fit him well.  He was big, but not very tall.  Later on, when he was already going to the Ciudad Deportiva every day and returned covered in mud, I remember that I would dry his boots in the oven so that they would be ready for the next day.

Back then, I had no knowledge about football.  You can almost, almost say that there was a time, when I prevented from working as a hairdresser, that I hated it.  Many times, I thought that his father was pulling my leg.  He would go each day with the kid, but I never saw the kid on television.  I thought that everyone who played football had to appear on TV, if just for a day.  I thought that he was tricking me.  When he told me that Iker was going to play his first tournament away from Madrid, in Meudon, at the age of 10, I asked him, “how is our son going to France to play football?”  I didn’t believe it.  Now, I follow all his games and I like football.  It’s not that I understand it well, but yes, I do like it.

He only entered into day care when he was four, because he was my plaything and I wanted him at home.  When he was six, he went on to public school.  He had a tranquil character.  I can’t say that he was bad, bad.  But you could never see him coming.  He would do something and hide.  He cut the cables of my sewing machine, of lamps… sometimes the wires would shock him, but he didn’t cry so he wouldn’t be found out.  The other day, I heard him talking about how he lost a chick that I had won at a supermarket.  I believe that he had painted it, and when he went to wash it, it escaped.  He did everything on the sly, very quietly.

We made balls for him from paper and tape, and I bought him many balloons so he could kick them.  However, no balls were allowed to enter my house because he broke everything.  I realized quickly that he was left-footed, although to eat and for everything else, he was right-handed.  When he was between the ages of six and eight, his favorite hobbies were playing with a ball and watching cartoons on TV.  He never played with anything else.  He was never handy enough to make anything.  He liked cars, but ones that were already made.  And watching his cartoon movies on TV.  He would watch the same one 40 times.

Iker was not baptized, nor did he have communion.  If one day he gets married and he wants to, he can do all of that together.  I told him that he could decide himself when he was older, that these were very personal issues.  He never told me anything.  I told him that if he wanted a party because all his friends got one on the days of their communions, we would organize one with presents and everything.  I’m one of those who believe that in life, there are so many things that others decide for you that when it comes to these things, he’s the one that has to decide.  I don’t believe in heaven or hell.  I believe in the earth and in the reality that we live in.  I know that we haven’t hurt him in the least by letting him make this decision.  The important thing is to have one’s foundations rooted to the ground.

He was always a good student.  I was told that he behaved at school.  He was shy and reserved.  He always told me that he wanted a brother, and he even cried because he didn’t have one to play with.  He would see his neighborhood friends with their brothers and ask me why he didn’t have one and tell me he didn’t have anyone to play with.  He insisted so much that I have to say that he very much influenced our decision to have another child, and that’s how Unai came to be born.  Another Basque name.  I still liked them, because they were rarer.  I wanted a girl but we had another boy.  Iker jumped with joy when Unai was born because it was a boy, just as he wanted.  He shouted around the house, “how lucky, how happy am I to have a brother!”  [I can totally imagine this!]  He was always a leader for Unai.  Unai did everything Iker told him to do.  If he told him to secretly take two pears or two apples, the small one would go for them.  Unai feels adoration for him.  Iker knew that if the small one did things, he wouldn’t be punished, and so he sent him to do everything.

As a kid, Iker was a bit resentful.  If anyone did anything to him, he would keep it inside.  Now, he’s a bit less.  He matured very quickly.  He can’t put up with injustices and when anyone does something to him, he gets very angry.  He worried a lot during those times when he became a substitute during those first years with the first team.  I told him to calm down, that other players would be in his situation if he were the one playing.

He was always very responsible with everything.  We never had any problems with the matter of money.  When he started making money from Madrid, he would give it to us so that we could take care of it.  He always had a lot of confidence in us and even now, he continues to have this confidence.  I began to give him an allowance when he was 13 or 14 so that he could manage it himself.  He never had a piggy bank, nor did I open a bank account for him when he was a kid.  I told him that whatever I gave him, he had to manage it, that if he spent everything on the first day, he wouldn’t have anything left for the next day or the rest of the week.  I guided him towards what he had to do.  He was never free spending.  I taught him how to manage his money.  He was neither stingy nor a big spender.  He’s not one of those very affectionate boys, but he did have a lot of faith in me.

Navalacruz is his life.  It’s my parents’ hometown.  He spent entire summers there, two long months.  He still feels adoration for the town.  He has the same friends he did when he was small.  They spent the entire day out on the streets.  To make him come home to eat, we had to go after him.  He would go everywhere with his ball and his bicycle.  It’s a small town, but in the summer, all the children from distinct generations would go there and it was like a summer camp.

He never paid much attention to his clothes or his shoes.  He’s always preferred a sporty look.  I bought him everything until he was 17 or 18.  When the brands that sponsored him began to give him clothing, he would wear a shirt and jeans.  He never asked me for any brand name clothing.  And if he ever wanted anything, I would trick him.  I even made his karate uniform by hand, coping another that a friend lent me.  I would take the tag of some brand name pants that a relative had and sew it into his jeans.  And he was happy.  He never paid much attention to hairstyles, fashion, gel… And I was a hairstylist.  He wasn’t very demanding with these things.  I cut his hair until he was 22 to 23 years old.  He lived at home until he was 24 or 25.  Now he lives close by and we see each other once a week at least.  I speak on the phone with him.  I know he’s doing well, I see him on TV and I don’t want to be overly involved in his life.  He has his life, his work, everything we wanted for him.  What else could I want as a mother!

With regards to his hair, it’s true that I’ve played dirty tricks on him.  I’ve always like hairdressing and I wanted to be a hairdresser.  When he was already on the infantiles or cadetes category of Madrid, I had a bit more free time, since he was at school during the morning and trained in the afternoon, so I studied hairdressing.

It might be bad to say this now, but I have to say it because it’s part of the life of Iker and of our family.  What I really wanted to be was a hairdresser and when I finished my studies, I wanted to go to Ávila and set up my own business.  We purchased an apartment and everything and we began to look for a site for the salon.

We could never go because Iker continued – and continues – at Real Madrid.  Every May or June, when they decided whether he would continue or not, I would tell him that as soon as he was kicked out, we would go to Ávila and football would end for him.  But he continued, continued, continued in Madrid and we continued and continued to live in Móstoles.  Back then, I was very upset, but now I understand that it was for the good of my son.

I used him to experiment with hairstyles, as a model.  One day, I had an exam at school and I took him.  We had to dye the hair in two colors, half the head in each color.  A friend of his came with him, but his mother took him away as soon as she found out what we had to do.  Of course, Iker couldn’t leave because I was his mother and I needed him.  So I experimented on him, and I ended up passing.

I wasn’t surprised to find out that his teammates teased him about his hair because there were times when I really made a mess out of his hair.  One time, he changed the setting on my razor without my knowledge and so I ended up shaving a large chunk of the hair off the back of his head.  I told him to get a brown marker and to color in the area so it wouldn’t be so noticeable.  In the end, Iker ended up making it to the first team, leaving me without my salon in Ávila.  The house cost us 7.8 million pesetas.

Although I watch his games regularly, I can’t handle penalty shootouts.  I’ve fainted three times during penalty shootouts.  The first one was in a boys’ domestic championship at the old Ciudad Deportiva.  The second was the final of the Nike Cup in Paris, against some Germans, and the third and most serious case occurred in the game against Italy in the 2008 Eurocopa, when he saved two penalties.  I had to lie down across three seats.  Dr. Juan Carlos Hernández [Madrid’s former team doctor], who was nearby, came to attend to me.  We had a good scare.  I don’t remember the penalties.  At the end of the overtime, I began to feel poorly just thinking that the game could go into penalties.

The day of the final of the South Africa World Cup, as we were on our way to the stadium, I began to feel poorly, very poorly, and Sonia, Fernando Hierro’s wife, who was with us, helped me to locate Fernando and a doctor, and before the game, I received a dose of Buscapina.  I recovered and I was able to watch the game, more or less.  But when I realized that we could go into a penalty shootout, I had to go look for a bathroom to sit in and pass the time until it was over.  But this was a nephritic colic and when we returned to Madrid, we went directly to the doctor.

If it’s possible, I love Iker more after this.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. @ulonghaz permalink
    May 26, 2012 12:44

    i love her!

  2. lover_iker permalink
    May 26, 2012 13:10

    you surprised us again!i can not find any word for say to you thank you so much with all of my heart
    and about iker one day that passed i become in love with him more and more he is the best in everything

  3. Alexa permalink
    May 26, 2012 14:03

    I simply admire his mom.

  4. Pipita quédate permalink
    May 26, 2012 16:28

    hahahhahaha…this is absolutely hilarious. Iker´s mom is such a funny woman, very entertaining written text for sure. I really start to like Iker…not only as a footballer (I´ve liked him as a footballer for a few years) but as a person as well.
    Thanks Una! YOU ROCK

  5. jellyace permalink
    May 26, 2012 17:12

    Iker’s mother is just adorable! I love her sneaky tricks!

  6. black widow permalink
    May 26, 2012 18:18

    i don’t have the words. this is just … wow. una, thank you SO MUCH for translating this (as you know, i have the book and the photos are fantastic, but i really have trouble with the words)!

    obviously, footballers are “real people”, and we get snippets of that through their actions and interviews and videos and what we see of them on and off the pitch. but no one knows them like their parents, and no one knows you like your mother, and so mari carmen’s words here really, really humanise him, if you know what i mean. (that’s probably not coming across properly; obviously he’s human, but what i mean is, in this context it’s so much easier to see him as a person and not just a hero/athlete/celebrity/icon.) what i love is that it isn’t a glossy, my-son-is-perfect account (all mothers think their children are perfect, no? 🙂 ) — she is humble and honest enough to show not only both his good and bad traits, but her own as well, and i really admire that. no wonder he has turned out to be such an outstanding, solid, salt-of-the-earth guy, look at who his role models were. 🙂

    this was a marvellous, marvellous read, and like you, it just made me love him more (and her, too!). thank you!

  7. Dia permalink
    May 27, 2012 04:38

    Wow, I’m so impressed with Iker’s Mom. As I read this I had to keep reminding myself that this woman had no idea how great her son would turn out to be. Even though she hated football she goes to see her son play. I love Iker more after this too!

  8. May 27, 2012 05:19

    “As a kid, Iker was a bit resentful. If anyone did anything to him, he would keep it inside. Now, he’s a bit less.” – I guess Iker’s bitter streak started young, huh?

    I love that story that she didn’t believe the Iker wasn’t really playing football. I think I remember Iker saying in an interview that his mother thought that his father was using Iker’s football as an excuse to cheat on her. Haha!

    Thank you Una for all the work you put into translating this. I’m sure I speak for everyone who visits your blog that we really, REALLY, appreciate it.

  9. Ally permalink
    May 27, 2012 16:48

    His mom has good writing skills! I just love this whole passage 😀 she sacrificed much for her child, but I think it is worth it now.

  10. May 28, 2012 19:48

    Reblogged this on teresamunoz91.

  11. Love madrid permalink
    May 28, 2012 21:19

    Omg he’s very pretty<3
    love her much<3
    you now at he going to maried in the summer<3
    please do you have history of cristiano ronaldos mother,loveronaldomuch<3

  12. sara permalink
    June 24, 2014 13:27

    Thank u so much for translating. U just made my day i hope u would translate more from his book😃

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