Esteban Granero in London
Marca recently interviewed everyone’s favorite pirate, Esteban Granero (so far, it hasn’t been published on the web site) and he had some wonderful things to say about his beloved club and his beloved idol (hint: his initials are X.A.). Here are my favorite parts.
How are you [in English]?
(Laughs) Very good, thanks [in English].
How are you doing with speaking English?
I came in at a good level and now I believe I have improved a bit, especially my footballing vocabulary. I can do interviews in English and all that, so good.
Do you know how to say “pirate”?
Yes. I’ve done everything without a translator and everything has gone well for me.
How is your life in London?
Very good. I’ve been here for two months and I’m very content on the personal level, and also with my professional situation. At the moment, the results aren’t the best, but they will be because there’s a good foundation. I believe it will be a great season.
Are you feeling like a footballer again?
I’ve always felt like a footballer, but when one doesn’t have much confidence in his possibilities, it’s necessary to test oneself constantly, and the way to do that is on the field. Here, I play more and I needed that. It’s a new project, very exciting, and with all the incentives that I needed: it’s a club that wants to grow, it has confidence in me, it’s a spectacular league and a great city for me to grow in all sorts of ways.
Does your new look have anything to do with this change?
You can’t separate the professional side from the personal side, as everything is connected. They might have something to do with each other, taking into account that I’ve gone from living on the second floor of a skyscraper to living in the attic of a house. Facing this challenge fills you with energy, and it’s a challenge for me because I didn’t have to leave Madrid, which for me is the best club in the world. In fact, I could have stayed there for many years if I had wanted to. But I changed my life because I need challenges, and that was important for me because I am confident that it’s going to make me a better footballer and person. That’s why I needed to face up to it.
What do your teammates call you, do you have a nickname?
They normally call me by my name, Esteban, but also sometimes they call me Pirata [or Pirate, I’m not sure]. They already know how I got that nickname. They call me Esteban or Pirata more than Granero.
How come you didn’t do your patented goal celebration for your first goal in the Premier League?
Because we were losing and it wasn’t the moment to celebrate it. I believe I will continue the tradition, although you never know. I might end up doing the cockroach (laughs).
Was it a mixture of ambition, craziness and need that made you leave Madrid?
Ambition for sure, because you’re leaving the best place in the world to make a life for yourself, and you’re looking more for something on the inside than on the outside, because in Madrid you have everything you need for the outside. But I look at myself in the mirror and I want to be honest with myself and knowing myself, I know what I need, and that’s the ambition that you referred to. Craziness? For me, it would have been crazier to remain in the situation that I was in, but if you’re referring to craziness in the sense that I was risking everything to come here, then yes. But life is like this, you don’t play football for very long and I like to play. I like the field, the ball, and football is my life. I’ll go anywhere in search of that. For me, it’s not a risk, and if it is, I don’t care.
Do you regret not having left before?
No. I left in the moment I had to leave. I hung on for as long as I could. If I didn’t leave before, it was because I was playing and because doing that in Madrid has been my dream since I was a boy and I had to achieve it. If I had left before, I would have been fleeing, but now it isn’t like that.
Is your “white” adventure over, or will it continue?
Madrid will always be there, I can’t forget it when it’s been my team ever since I can remember. I received my first kit when I was four years old, I’ve always gone to the stadium to watch games and I played there. Now I’m no longer there, but I feel as close as when I was a player.
It’s a part of my life and always will be. I don’t know if I’ll play with Madrid again, but that’s not important. What is important is that I’ll always be with the team spiritually because it’s a part of me.
What did Mou tell you when you told him you were leaving?
I’ve always had positive talks with him. My memories of these conversations are good. He always put my well-being above all other things, which is something I’m grateful for. With regards to our last talk, I remember that he didn’t want me to leave, but he understood. He wished me the best, he gave me advice and he helped me with my decisions. I remember him with a lot of affection. He told me I was going to be happy. His point of view is important. I don’t speak often with him now because he’s very busy (laughs) and I don’t want to bother him, but we do have a good relationship and we will continue having one. We exchange messages sometimes and I have a lot of affection for him. He taught me a lot, and I wish him the best. He’s a great coach and he was great with me.
You wear the “14” for Xabi. What advice has he given you about English football?
I also wear it for Guti. The former teammate that I speak to the most is Xabi. My relationship with him was great. He was one of my idols and he became a teammate. He continued to be my idol as a teammate, for the way he treated me. And that’s not easy, because many times when you get to know someone you admire, you end up learning things that ruin that image for you. But that hasn’t happened with Xabi. Xabi has great memories of the Premier League and he also told me that it would be good for me. His words are important for me. He told me that the football suited me and he was right.
What would you like to tell the madridistas?
I’m just one more of them now. Before, I was at another level in the club, now I’m like all of them. I would like to thank them for their affection, which has been impressive from the first day to the last. I will continue supporting Madrid. Ah! And I hope they continue supporting the players from the cantera. They had a special affection for me because I came from the cantera, and I believe that’s fair.
I miss Esteban so much!
On the subject of the cantera, it would be much easier for us fans to continue supporting the canteranos if there were actually any of them on the first team that get regular playing time or even a start once in a while (Iker doesn’t count because he has passed beyond that level). Although 14 canteranos have debuted with Mou in official games, which he likes to constantly remind us of, only three have played more than three games. One of them is Morata, who has played a grand total of 50 minutes in five games. That averages to 10 minutes per game. The majority of the minutes given to the canteranos were during garbage time of unimportant games, of course.
This article from Hugo Cerezo (from Marca, but bear with me) sums up the other things I felt after hearing Mou. It reads: José Mourinho spoke about contradictions in the formation of the canteranos during the press conference. A contradiction is promoting a centerback to the first team to play as a fullback, and then when the three pure fullbacks on the first team get injured, use a midfielder to cover that position. A contradiction is promoting Nacho to the first team and after more than two months of competition, not allow him to play one single minute. A contradiction is insinuating that Nacho should be a rightback with Castilla because his place on the first team is as a fullback, and then signing an unknown rightback to replace Carvajal. If Nacho is going to be a fullback now, what is Toril supposed to do with Fabinho and the 1.5 million the club paid for him? A contradiction is saying Castilla’s system hurts the players when it’s known that Toril asked for a pure “9” to replace Joselu and cover Morata’s promotion, which he was denied. That’s why he has to play with a “false 9.” When Mourinho allows Morata to play with Castilla, then Castilla plays like the first team. A contradiction is saying publicly that one respects the autonomy of Toril, and then to immediately follow up by saying that he should decide whether he wants to help the first team or fight for fifth place in the second division. It’s a fact that Mourinho has no confidence in the cantera. But that’s his decision, for good or for bad. However, insinuating that the responsibility lies with Castilla, which is enjoying one of the best moments in its history, is contradictory.