Zidane, Figo, RC & Ronnie at FourFourTwo
I hardly ever read football news in English, but when I saw the cover of the June issue of FourFourTwo, my interest was piqued. It was piqued despite the fact that I detest the label “galácticos” (though I liked the players on an individual basis) and disagreed with many of the decisions made during that era, being a staunch supporter of many of the players considered to be part of the “clase media,” as Santi Solari put it; of Vicente del Bosque; and of results rather than glamour. Anyway, the magazine got together Zizou, Figo, Ronnie and “Bobby Carlos” (who calls him that?) and had them reminisce about that era, as well as recreate the cover they shot back in 2003. For the most part, they look the same!
Here are some quotes from the article.
On playing with the others.
Zidane: I enjoyed playing in that team so much. The opposition might score two, three goals… nowadays, if that happened, you’d say, “we’re going to lose.” But we didn’t. No pasa nada. They scored two? We’ll score three. It was fun.
Roberto Carlos: we were all like kids enjoying ourselves out on the pitch when we were together… I love the supporters. Last time I went to a clásico and they told me to come back and visit more often – despite the fact I am always here!
Figo: Ronaldo! He didn’t need to train, the cabrón! He was so good that he didn’t need to bother.
Zidane: once in a while he didn’t fancy training, but the thing is that Ronaldo was such a good player and such a good person that in the end no one really minded. I remember a game at home when the president came along with some politician who was important and said, “Ronnie, could you run a bit more?” He replied, “Presi, you pay me to score goals, not to run.” So of course he goes out there and he scores. Only Ronnie could do that, and he was the only one that the president would say something like that to. He was just so likeable.
On Del Bosque.
Zidane: he spoke little but what he said was the right thing and at the right time. I agreed with what he said… He spoke little but well. Perfect.
Figo: everyone liked Del Bosque. He was very sensible. He knew how to manage the group very well. He’s not pesado – hard work, heavy-going. We lived great moments with him and I have real affection for him. I admire him. It was a fantastic experience to work with him.
RC: Vicente was what the club needed, because he knew the club well and got the most out of the players without reinventing the wheel. We won two Champions Leagues with him and he was always very simple in his instructions.
On who was the best.
RC: only Zidane would say that Zidane was not the best. We would joke about the fact that he was the only one who didn’t think he was the most skillful player of his generation.
Ronaldo: Zidane was the best. No doubt about it. Everything came so easily to him. His control was incredible. He was the best player I ever played with.
On Zidane’s goal in La Novena.
RC: it was the perfect assist.
Zidane: perfect, yes. I’ll testify to that. Where do I sign?… What I’m thinking is: “I’m going to shoot.” I shift sideways and I think: “I’m going to shoot.” I looked across to see where the goal was. I had time. I know I am going to hit it first time and… whoosh! When it went in, I felt so much happiness. I ran off shouting, and in Spanish too: “Take that! Take that! Take that!” Lifting that cup was the best moment for me at Madrid.
Zidane: he was very, very professional, very serious. He always came to training early and worked very hard.
Figo: David is a phenomenal lad, a great person: he never created any problems. I had a great relationship with him. I liked him. What I can say about David is that he was excellent, likeable, and a friend. That matters most to me.
Additional quotes that I enjoyed.
Zidane on Fernando Hierro: Fernando [Hierro] was fantastic. He was the only one that Roberto Carlos listened to, for example. Roberto did whatever he wanted. He was here, there and everywhere and when Fernando said, “Roberto, here,” he listened and he came back. Fernando was the only one. He was also the one who did the most to keep us together as a team: when I arrived, he was there, saying, “if you need anything…” When he left we really missed him.
Zidane on the napkin incident [where FP passed him a napkin with the words “do you want to play for Real Madrid written in Spanish,” and Zidane wrote back “yes” in English]: it wasn’t normal paper and it wasn’t easy to write on. I could have said “oui” or “sí”… I really don’t know why I wrote “yes.” I wanted to join Madrid because they were the biggest club in the world. It is true that I could have played for Barcelona but it was always my dream to play for Madrid, to wear that white shirt.
RC on his size: I was always muscular. But at Madrid they [his thighs] got even bigger because I needed even more power and speed. I have bought special trousers ever since. Before then, I just got the size and hoped they would fit!
RC on their social lives: a typical night out? We would basically go round to each other’s houses. We had all kinds of discos at home. We basically wanted to have fun but it would be difficult to do that in the public eye, in front of paparazzi and people who wanted to take advantage. Of course there were women – we were mostly single. We wanted to have fun but we wanted to play for Madrid even more, so it was not over the top.
Ronaldo on Macca: there is one story I can tell you about my golf buddy Macca. After we won the league for the first time , everyone went out to celebrate. We drank, we ate and we danced. The next day we had to be at the town hall at 9 a.m. for a very formal event to commemorate the success. Everyone was there… guess which two players were the only two that didn’t make it? We were still out celebrating.
Figo on the cochinillo incident: I didn’t see it. There were so many things that I didn’t notice. I saw it the next day in the press… if I had seen it, I would have eaten a bit! Time for an apertivo! It never even enters your head that someone could go into the stadium with a cochinillo… or a bottle of whiskey.
Figo on his teammates: what really stays with you is the friendship, even if you live on other sides of the world [the magazine notes that “he and Zidane still meet up in Madrid; they live close by and their wives are friends. They go to the gym together (although Zidane admits “it’s been a while since I went”). They play padel together in a gym near where they live.”].
It’s so nice to write a post without having to translate anything, jajaja!
P.S. If you’re now a bit nostalgic for these players (I know I am now), read the posts titled “easy weekend reading.”