the Sergio book – Sergio without boots (II)
Memories of his brother, René.
I am eight years older than Sergio. When I was 15, I played with Camas’ juvenil team and he spent all his afternoons with me. He was always playing, and always playing with older kids. Everyone talked about him because he was very short but very fast, and he scored many goals.
He wanted to be with me because even though he was really small, he liked the atmosphere of belonging to a team. Later on, we played against each other once, just one time. He was 15 years old and playing for Sevilla’s cadete team and I was in the Preferente, with Demo. It was a friendly. Since his coach knew us, he decided that Sergio would defend me. I was a forward and that day he played as a centerback.
During the first long and high pass I received, he jumped up with me and gave me an elbow that split my lip. I stared at him and I told him to control himself, that he couldn’t defend me like that. He told me that he always played with that much intensity, and he wasn’t going to change just because he was facing his brother, since this was a serious game, even though it was a friendly.
A few minutes later, during a corner kick, in an effort to reduce tensions, I grabbed him like Míchel had done to Valderrama. He was really upset and he told me to stop fooling around, that we were playing a football game and that he wasn’t out there to have fun. These two anecdotes perfectly define his personality and character. After that, he didn’t let me touch the ball once, he always got there before me.
My coach then took me out and yelled at me in front of my teammates. He reproached me for allowing my brother, who was eight years younger, to render me ineffective and asked me if I weren’t embarrassed that a 14-year-old kid had done what he had done to me. My parents, my sister, my grandmother Reyes and my grandfather Juan were all at that game. Everyone saw how Sergio had taken the wind out of my sails. The truth is I had a bad time of it, but I also began to realize how far he could go, since he had been able to deprive a forward who was eight years older than him of the ball.
As a player, I reached the Primera Andaluza with Marchena, and that’s when the family decided that Sergio was going to take football seriously and my father asked me to prepare myself in the best possible way and to get the relevant degrees and diplomas to manage his career. He told me, “better you than anyone else.” And he lit a fire inside me. Of course, he was on top of everything, for both me and Sergio. I had to learn how to be strong, since I couldn’t let my father or my little brother down. Thanks to him, we were able to move forward because it was Sergio who managed to overcome all the obstacles. He also took it seriously. He gave up many things that kids his age did because he wanted to make it in football. He has told me many times that it was all worth it. It was worth it for us too, of course.
You could see that he had leadership skills when you watched him train and saw how he looked at his teammates. He was called up for the Sevilla and Andalucía teams. Back then, those teams had more importance because there were regional and one national championship.
When he had his growth spurt, he didn’t lose his technical skills. We have good genes. When he was 16, he made the Segunda B team, and when he was 17, the first team. We fought with Sevilla over his contract. A special day for everyone was the day of his debut in the first division with Sevilla in the Riazor. The entire family watched the game at the house of one of the uncles and we all ended up crying tears of joy.
What would become his last season with Sevilla, when he played as a starter, was crazy. Before Madrid contacted us, we had a serious offer from Valencia. Quique Sánchez Flores wanted him no matter the price. Sevilla didn’t want to sell him. We weren’t in any hurry. We even proposed a lifetime contract to Sevilla so that we could stay. That was in May. A bit later, Madrid contacted us. Florentino called Sergio one day and asked him if he wanted to play for Madrid. The president wanted to know if we had decided to make the jump. Sergio said yes and then Florentino told him, “don’t worry, you’ll play for Madrid.’ And he kept his promise. Since that point on, he has only given support to Sergio as a player and as a person.
The first few months in Madrid were very tough. Two long months in adjoining hotel rooms make you get fed up with each other. But when we made the decision, we knew where we were coming from and that nothing was going to be easy. The first season was tremendous, with the changes of coach and president… I admit that during the first two years there were offers to leave Madrid, but we never seriously considered the possibility because we were where we wanted to be. During a trip to Milan, we met with people from AC Milan and Inter. Then, when Ronaldo returned to Milan, there was another attempt. He spoke very highly of Sergio and since they already knew him, they made an attempt.
In Madrid, we have improved the terms of his contract, first with Ramón Calderón and then with Florentino Pérez; we signed a contract until 2017. We were happy and we felt valued. We always receive calls because he’s a desired player. He’s won two Eurocopas and one World Cup and he’s 26 years old. They call you and tell you that Manchester City is very interested, as is United. If you listen to what they offer, you’ll go crazy, but what Sergio wants is to keep his feet planted on the ground, as he has always done.
Sergio is at a very important moment of his life. He has matured a lot. He has new hopes and projects. He has collaborated with UNICEF for five years and also collaborates with the Realmadrid Foundation, with whom he has opened a football school in Camas. He works with the Apascovi Foundation and also with the Small Desires Foundation. We’re open to all these types of collaborations, and Sergio does all of these without publicity. He has visited hospitals and prisons. One of his most enjoyable moments was being one of the Three Kings during Camas’ Three Kings parade.
Memories of his sister, Miriam.
He was always the baby of the family for everyone. I have three fathers, my real one and my two brothers, who wanted to protect me from everything. Sergio did more of that because we’re closer in age and during his childhood we spent every day together. We went to the same school. I was two grades above him, but we had the same friends, although at times he “kicked” me out for being a girl.
He was always a happy kid and I always remember him playing on the street with the ball. He wasn’t a bad student, but since he was always thinking about football, he didn’t place too much importance on his studies. He liked drawing and gym classes. He was very intelligent. He could read something and memorize it immediately, without forgetting it. In Camas, everyone called him Schuster because he was blond and wore his hair like the German player.
He has always been very flirtatious. He was very cheeky, very charming and the girls fought over him. He has also been very proud since he was a kid. He never apologized, but he also never complained if he was punished. He would go to his room without argument. We fought a lot, but we couldn’t handle being separated. I would even prepare his breakfast for him.
He didn’t want me to always be hanging around him and so he would tell me to leave. I would complain to my father and he would end up scolding him. He would get upset because I would taunt him afterward.
When he went to play for Sevilla at such a young age, our lives changed a bit because we had to bring him and pick him up. I remember that my parents told us behave in the same way, even as he rose through the ranks, because we didn’t want him to get his hopes up, but of course we were all happy to see him grow up and for people to talk about him. Our vacations also changed because he began playing for regional teams and we couldn’t spend as much time on the beach as we did when we were kids.
Sergio was a specialist at giving nicknames to the cars that we had. The green Ford Fiesta was called “Lanzallamas” [Flamethrower] for the exhaust pipe where everything would come out, and his first car, an Audi 3, was called “Bala Roja” [The Red Bullet].
In 1998, we moved to Tomares. During our last year in Camas, we had changed schools, attending the Instituto Alixar in Castilleja de la Cuesta. Our father took us to school. He also got a taxi driver license because he spent the whole day driving around. In Tomares, we made a new group of friends, though we continued to spend as much time together as we could, although he would arrive late because of training sessions and we had less time to play on the streets.
The most traumatic event for me was when he signed for Real Madrid and we all went with him. I will never forget the day of his presentation. My mother and I had a real good cry. My life changed completely. I was working at a store in a mall in Nervión and I left everything behind, my work, my friends. Our parents made it clear that the four of us should be with him. We lived two months in a hotel, which were eternal. Then we went to live in a house in the Parque Conde de Orgaz area. My mother and I went back and forth between Madrid and Sevilla, but my father and René stayed with him.
I know that I’m the apple of his eye. As soon as he started earning money, he began purchasing gifts for me. The first one was a designer bag. I love bags. Sergio has very simple tastes. A few years back, he didn’t like fashion at all. He was happy just owning three tracksuits. Now he likes it. We often go shopping together, the two of us.
When he has his music, his flamenco and his friends, he has a great time. He loves bullfighting, and he’s happy when he gets to go to the ranch. We’ve had some good anecdotes with our tattoos. The first one he got was a genie. He was 15. He tried to hide it under shirts, but one day my father saw it and got mad at him. In the beginning, we didn’t like it, but then we realized it was an impossible to avoid.