Tribuna.com reporter Vitaly Suvorov spoke to a former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique.
Jose Enrique wants you to know he’s happy.
In 2018, a former Liverpool, Newcastle and Villareal defender announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare brain tumour and underwent the surgery. Over the next few years, Enrique, now 34, has not only recovered from the disease but also changed almost every aspect of his life.
The ex-left back went on to become an agent. He proposed to his long-time girlfriend Amy (naturally, she said yes). Jose has finally accepted he’s no longer a player and seems to be swiftly adapting to a post-football life. He even moved to a new house in Valencia – and was quick to point out that, being a footballer for most of his life, this was the first time he actually owned a place.
“I didn’t expect to retire that early, to be honest. We were slowly building the house but then I retired and it wasn’t ready yet. So we had to rent another one, and now we finally got our own place for the first time in my life. We’re really happy.”
During the next two hours of our conversation, it becomes obvious that Enrique is clearly excited about the future – but luckily for Tribuna.com, he’s still willing to talk about the past.
Speaking of early retirement, you didn’t play much in the last few seasons at Liverpool. What was it like for you to watch the games from the sidelines while struggling with injuries?
“For me, the most difficult thing was to accept that I couldn’t play at the level I used to play. I tried to stay happy off the field of course and I loved the city so much. But I wasn’t happy with myself. It’s strange because you want to play but you can’t, really. Not because you’re not good enough but because your knee doesn’t allow you to play at the level you used to play. It took me years to accept it.”
“Liverpool were completely right not to renew my contract. I wasn’t able to play at the top level. Jurgen knew my history and he was very honest with me. It’s difficult to accept something like that when a person tells you this in your face but I’m really grateful. I’m like him. I like to tell the truth. I don’t like going around. But of course the whole thing was very frustrating at the time.”
“I remember my first game after the injury was against Middlesbrough in the League Cup. I don’t know why but Brendan kept me in the game for 120 minutes haha. I played very well and felt good but three days later we played against Crystal Palace and my knee started swelling. So you go to a fitness coach again, then you train for a few days, then your knee starts swelling again and that’s when the nightmare starts when you realise, ‘Wow, I cannot train every day’. I can play on weekends but I can’t train every day.”
“Maybe that could’ve worked in another team, but at Liverpool you have to train every day because you need to convince the manager that you’re ready to start games. You can’t train two times a week and then play. You have to be as fit as possible because there’s someone else waiting there in the queue.”
“It’s sad because I believe I could’ve still been at Liverpool. Not as a starter, it’s impossible with Robertson playing like that! But in the end, I’ve had an amazing career and I’ve played for Liverpool so I’m happy.”
Have you ever visited psychologists?
“Yeah. I didn’t do it at Liverpool but after I left the club, yeah I did it. I needed help so I took medications and went to psychologists. I still do, to be honest. It’s good cause once you stop playing football, you need to adapt to something new and it’s difficult. Being a footballer is the best, it’s a dream. I did what I loved. And then, suddenly, it stopped. Luckily, I’m very happy now because I’m still involved in football as an agent.”
Do you remember the exact day when you decided to retire?
“I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve never said it before. I arrived in Zaragoza. Imagine the drop. You arrive from Liverpool to Spain's second division. It’s not Crystal Palace, Getafe or something like that. You’re in the second division. I still remember the moment when I signed with them, then went to my partner and said, ‘Oh my god. How I’ve changed in just a few months’. It was crazy. But I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to give it a go. I’m going to give it one year and see how it goes’.”
“My purpose was to win the promotion with Zaragoza and play in La Liga for a few more years. Instead, we almost got relegated to the third division. When the first half of that season was over, I remember thinking, ‘I’m done. I don’t want to suffer any more’.”
“My knee was bad. Plus, it was the second division so we were travelling by bus for 13-14 hours. I didn’t have a problem with that but my knee did. So I said to myself, ‘Listen. Financially, it’s not worth it. Mentally, it’s killing me. So why am I still playing? I’m not enjoying it right now.’ And when you don’t enjoy something, it’s time to change it.”
“I had one more year left in my contract but I said to the club that I didn’t enjoy it anymore. It wasn’t like I wanted to cancel the contract to go to another club. I wasn’t going anywhere even though I had an offer from Greece in the summer. I just didn’t want to play football anymore. Now I only play for Liverpool Legends or when my dad asks me to play for his club that helps kids. That’s it. I watch football but I don’t play it.”
Was it difficult to start watching games on TV again?
“To be honest, yes, it was difficult. It was difficult to watch it and not be part of it anymore. But then you know what happened to me. And it changed my mind completely. I started appreciating life even more, I realized that I was a privileged guy, I had a privileged job. I’m a football agent now and I’m really happy that players love the way I treat them. People who know me know that I’m a really straight forward guy.“
“There are so many lies in this world. I was a player and I didn’t like when people lied to me so I don’t lie to my players. If you like it, it’s perfect. If you don’t, I’m not your man mate, go find someone else.”
In 2014, Liverpool signed Alberto Moreno. You became the second-choice left back but you immediately took Moreno under your wing. Why?
“Well, I’m sure not many players would’ve done something like that. It’s just my personality. You’re a human being first, footballer second. Alberto was a new player, he didn’t speak English – he still doesn’t speak English, I joke with him about it a lot cause he lives 30 mins away from me now. We still see each other once a month.”
“But yeah, I don’t think many people would do what I did for him. And he knows it, he knows it. At that time I was starting to accept that I wouldn’t play anymore. In the end, the team is more important than me. I wasn’t able to help on the pitch so I thought, how can I help? Well, I tried to help Alberto as much as possible because it would help the team. He was young, he just arrived in a new country. I know what it’s like.”
“When I signed for Newcastle, Albert Luque [retired Spanish forward] did the same thing for me even though he left the clubs two weeks after my arrival! But he helped me adapt to the city. I did the same for Moreno, Manquillo, some other young players. I love doing it.”
Liverpool fans love you now but it wasn’t always like that. You received a lot of criticism in the last few years at Liverpool for posting ‘luxury life’ pics on Instagram while not playing at all. Did that criticism hurt you?
“It was a mistake. Posting all those photos was a mistake. Instagram is really dangerous. At the time, the team wasn’t performing very well, I wasn’t playing cause I was injured. So posting those photos wasn’t the right decision. I realize it. Fans were completely right to criticize me. I think I did it cause I was mad not to be able to play anymore and I wanted to tell people, ‘Hey! I’m still here! Maybe I don’t play but I still enjoy life’. I wanted people to know that I was still there. But I shouldn’t have done it. Sometimes you don’t realize how powerful social media could be.”
What was your life like during the first few months after retiring?
“Someone told me recently, ‘If I was a former footballer, I would just live the holiday life’. Listen, after the first month, you’re already bored of it. Alright, give it a year, no problem. But after that? I’m still 34. When I retired, I was 31-32. What do I want? Do I want to be on holiday for the rest of my life? No, I don’t. You want to be something as a human being. You want to work, you want to do something that makes you feel proud of yourself. I feel proud being an agent. Humans need to work, you can’t be on holidays all the time. It’s very important to have a plan before you retire.”
Do you still have people who help you manage your life or you do everything yourself?
“Sometimes people think that footballers do nothing. Some of them really are like that. But for me, my partner and I do stuff ourselves. We go to a supermarket together, I like to go to a supermarket because I like to eat healthy. I like to buy fresh products. I cook more now or sometimes we cook together. I’ve never had a chef or anything like that. We have cleaners because the house is massive but my partner and I do most of the stuff.”
You once said that footballers lived in a bubble and it was an unreal life. What did you mean by that?
“When people think of footballers, they think of Liverpool, Barcelona, Juventus players. But there are players in League One, League Two, they’re footballers too, even though they don’t live the life a Liverpool player lives. So I was talking about players from the big leagues. I lived in a bubble. You do what you love, get paid well, receive so much attention, everyone treats you so good wherever you go. And then, all of a sudden, it stops.”
“Now my partner tells me, ‘Jose, go and clean the shit off the car’. And I go and clean it. I used to do it anyway but as a footballer, you have your cleaners, it’s a completely different life. When it all stops, the bubble just breaks. I talked to Jorge Lopez, a former Valencia player, two days ago. He told me the same thing. You’re still young when you retire. So you say, ‘Well, what do I do now?’ That’s why I tell all the players, ‘Prepare yourself for the post football life’. I didn’t.”
Where did you meet your partner?
“I actually met her in Manchester haha! She lived close to Manchester. The day I met her… It was something that had never happened to me before. As soon as I saw her, I fell in love right away. It was crazy what I felt for her. I can’t even explain it. I looked at her and went, ‘Wow’. Obviously she’s really beautiful but it wasn’t just that. I went to talk to her, normally I never do that. I said, ‘I love your smile’. And she smiled at me! We started chatting and I said to myself, ‘She has to be the one’. And look, we’ve got engaged recently and moved to a new house together.
“I planned our engagement for two weeks. I was very nervous but she liked it. It was the moment when we visited our new house for the first time. The plan was to come here for a picnic and it was her birthday as well. So I planned it very well!
“I’m quite romantic, to be honest, I’m a very cuddly guy. I always give her flowers when I can and she does the same for me. We’re always there for each other. She’s been with me in some of the darkest moments of my life, that shows how much a person loves you. So many people would run away and she’s been there. I owe my life to her, she’s everything for me.”
“You know, sometimes she doesn’t feel well and tells me, ‘You’re here for me’. And I reply, ‘I have a long way to match you. A long long way.’”
You once said that Jonas Gutierrez [ex-Newcastle star who had testicular cancer] was another person who helped you a lot when you first discovered you had a tumour.
“Yeah, I talked to him in the beginning. I knew he had a tumour as well although he had a different treatment. I think my operation was worse but his treatment was worse than mine. He had chemotherapy and I had proton therapy. Chemo makes you really weak and the proton therapy was quite handleable to be honest.
“But yeah, I asked him so many questions in the beginning and I’m very grateful. I had so many people to be grateful for. My partner, my family, the doctor who operated me. He’s still there for me as well.”
Do you remember the first time you’ve seen Klopp in person?
“Yeah, you look at the man and you think, ‘He’s crazy!’ haha. Because he looks crazy! But he’s a top man. Everyone can see that he’s the best manager in the world right now. The way Liverpool plays is unbelievable. Being a tactician is key but his man-management skills are great as well, players love him. When players love their manager, they give you 100% on the pitch. With me, he was really honest right from the start. Sometimes it hurt but I knew he was telling the truth. I’m so happy that he’s doing so well for Liverpool cause both Jurgen and the club deserve it.”
“And look what he did for me. He knew I was leaving so he gave me a chance to play as a centre back and gave me the captaincy in the cup game. I remember when he first told me that, I called my partner and said, ‘I’m going to be the captain!’ And she said, ‘I’m surprised!’ Klopp told me that I was the oldest player in the team and I deserved it. I still have that armband in my house! Being the captain of Liverpool, even for one game, I will always remember it. It was a dark period for me but I was very happy that day.”
What was the most surprising thing Klopp has ever done for the team?
“He did so many things. Like, when the whole team sings Happy Birthday to someone and does it in all these different languages that the players speak. They’ve done the same for Steven Gerrard recently. Now I want to ask them to do the same thing for me haha. It was beautiful, Stevie was crying at home. “
“When Klopp arrived, he also organized the meeting with all the people who work at Melwood. Everyone was a bit surprised, ‘What is he doing?’ Then he asked everyone to sit down and we, the players, started clapping. We did this for about 15 minutes and then he said, ‘Look. All these people, the workers, they have the same weight at this club as I do. They make your life easier every single day and allow you to focus on football’. I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’m sure all the staff felt very proud.“
“Everyone talks about players and managers but there are so many people working in the background. Even now, when I play for Liverpool Legends, they treat me just like they did when I was a first-team player. It’s unbelievable. This club… like they say, Once a Red, Always A Red. This is true. If you play for Liverpool, you’ll never stop supporting this club. I love Newcastle too, for example, they treated me very well.“
“But you can’t control your feelings. I love my partner and I can’t control it. Same with Liverpool. This club gave me so much. To be honest, you can’t compare myself with many Liverpool legends. But they still put me in that Legends team.”
“When I had a tumour, Liverpool were the most supporting club. They were there for me all the time, always asking how I was. Kenny Dalglish, Stevie, all the heavyweights of the club. And the fans, of course.”
“I remember when I went to see the semifinal against Barcelona at Camp Nou. The fans were singing to me before the game! They weren’t singing to the players on the pitch at that moment, they were singing to me, wow! That’s why I fell in love with Liverpool. You don’t choose who you support.”
“And I only read Liverpool news to be honest, I don’t read Daily Mail or things like that. I only read your app now. I’ve tried This is Anfield, all these different apps, but yours was the most updated one, all the time.”
Speaking of supporting clubs, is it true that your brother is a Barca fan?
“My older brother, yeah. He lives in Liverpool so he was at that Champions League game. When the game ended, I called him and laughed. But he said, ‘Jose, I want to be honest with you. I’m a Barca fan but it’s the best game I’ve ever been to! And the atmosphere was so good that I don’t care that Barca lost. I’m happy for Liverpool’. I was so upset that I wasn’t at the game! I’ve been to so many matches but I couldn’t go to one of the best games ever.”
You signed for Liverpool in the summer transfer window Jordan Henderson moved to Anfield from Sunderland. Could you imagine that he would turn into such a huge player for the Reds?
“People forget that when Liverpool signed him, he was 21 years old. You know what I mean? Obviously, Trent is 21 now and he’s already a Champions League winner but that’s not normal, that’s not what usually happens at that age. When I was 21, I arrived at Newcastle and it took me a year or two to adapt to English football. Jordan played for Sunderland but it wasn’t the same as playing for Liverpool. You could see the faith that the club had in him.”
“I believe that the main guy who had faith in him was Steven Gerrard. Right from the start, he could see a captain in Hendo. He used to give him the armband, he used to give him so much advice. Stevie saw something in Hendo that he didn’t see in anyone else.
“He’s a very hard-working player. What you see from him on the pitch now, I’ve seen it in training since he was 21. It wasn’t easy for him but he had talent and he put in so much hard work! I’m happy for Liverpool and I’m so happy for him.”
“He’s a friend of mine and when he lifted that Champions League trophy, he could finally take a bit of weight off his shoulders. Everyone was comparing him with Stevie all the time and now no one can say anything to him. Because he’s a captain who lifted the Champions League trophy. And now he’s going to win the Premier League as well. You can’t say anything to him now.
You always say that Luis Suarez is the best footballer you’ve ever played with. What makes Luis so special for you?
“I always mention Stevie because Stevie is Stevie. But I didn’t catch him in his prime. Even when he was older, you could see that he was a different class. His passes, oh my god. He played in a different dimension. But physically-wise, he wasn’t in his prime, he wasn’t 25 years old any more.”
“And Luis… What you saw from him in the games, I saw it on the training pitch every single day. He never got injured, he could play with any pain. When you had Luis on the pitch with you, you knew you always had a chance. You know that you defend well, he’s going to find his chance and score. I’ve been lucky to play with big players like Riquelme, Forlan, so many big names. But Suarez stands out from all of them.
Why do you think Suarez enjoyed playing for Liverpool more than at Barcelona?
“This is my own opinion of course, this is not coming from him. Barcelona was his dream and he left Liverpool because Barca was in a better position than Liverpool at that time, that was a reality. Carragher just said the same thing about Aubameyang and with Luis, it was the same situation. Liverpool weren’t winning trophies and Barcelona was one of the best teams in the world. But I’ve been invited to watch him play at Barca and we had some conversations that I’m not going to talk about. And I remember him playing at Anfield, fans singing his name for 80 minutes. He doesn’t have this in Barcelona, not even Messi has it. They might sing to Leo two or three times during games and he’s the best player in history!”
“Then you go to Anfield and fans are singing players’ names during the whole game. And Luis was our best player so they were singing to him all the time. That’s why I’m sure that if you ask him where he enjoyed playing more, he’ll say Anfield even though at Barcelona, he’s playing with the best player in the world and winning trophies.”
Can you really compare Mo Salah to Suarez?
“Obviously, Salah is one of the best players in the world. I think sometimes he’s a bit underrated because he had a very good first season. He’s still scoring a lot but he’s not scoring as many goals as he did in his first season and people say that he’s not that good. But he’s giving so much to the team, you can’t say he’s not a top player.”
“Speaking of Suarez, they play different positions, Suarez is a number nine while Salah starts on the wing. I’ve never had a chance to play with Salah so I don’t know how it feels to be on the pitch with him. But for me, Luis Suarez is in a different dimension. I believe that if you ask any Liverpool fan or even any current player, I’m sure that if you put Suarez in the team, he will improve that team. For me, Luis is the best player I’ve seen in a Liverpool shirt.
There was a lot of talk about Salah’s relationship with Mane a few months ago when Sadio’s reaction to being substituted in the Burnley game seriously freaked people out. Do you think there’s a tension between them?
“In football, you’re watched by everyone. When you’re a player, sometimes you don’t realize how much impact your actions have. You’re just focused on the game. It’s like any job. I used to argue with Luis Suarez in training sometimes and we were so close!”
“Or I would argue with Henderson because he didn’t pass me the ball properly. It’s football. You want the best in the team. And if you’re in a good position and someone wouldn’t pass you the ball, you’d be like, ‘Fuck! Why didn’t you pass me the ball?’”
“Mane, who’s my favourite Liverpool player right now by the way, probably thought that he would score from that position. But it’s football and it happens everywhere, with every player because you want to win. And your reaction to something like that depends on how your day is going. It was just a one-time thing.”
If Luis Suarez is the best player among all your former team-mates, who’s the best Premier League striker you’ve ever faced?
“I played against Cristiano when I was at Newcastle. He’s a winger though, not a striker. I loved Drogba, he was unbelievable. But I usually faced right wingers and Cristiano was brilliant. In his prime, Ben Arfa was very difficult to play against, Walcott, Aaron Lennon when he was at Tottenham. Aaron was so fast, it was very difficult. But yeah, I have to say Cristiano. The second best player in the world!”
“But I was never scared. If you’re scared, you’re not ready to play for a team like Liverpool. That’s the reality. You want to play against big players.
“When the Premier League restarts, you’ll see that some players will underperform because there are no fans, there’s not enough pressure because you’re playing on your own. I used to love facing great players and challenging myself.”
“When I played against Cristiano… You know, I always say to young players that when you face a guy like Cristiano, you have nothing to lose. If he beats you one-on-one, it’s Cristiano, you know. But if you do well, you do well against one of the best players in the world. You have to be extra motivated. You have to love playing against big players.”
If 2013/14 Liverpool had a chance to play against the current team, who would’ve won that game?
“The way Liverpool play right now, it would be difficult to beat them, to be honest. We’d have Suarez in form, but still. I think that in one game, anything can happen. But if we’re talking about ten games, for example, the current team would beat us more often, definitely. At the end of the day, we didn’t win anything and they won everything!”
Do you think Daniel Sturridge could’ve reached Suarez’s level if he hadn’t struggled with injuries so much?
“No. In terms of quality, yes. But if we’re talking about Luis’ mentality, I haven’t seen anyone like him on the pitch. It’s how Luis approaches the game and handles the pressure. We played against United or whatever and you could see Luis being so relaxed. I wasn’t nervous but you know what it’s like when you play against United, it means more. You’re in the dressing room and you’re like, ‘Come on, let’s go, I don’t want to be here anymore, I want to play’. But he’d be sitting there so relaxed, chilled, playing Football Manager on his phone. Then he gets on the pitch and he’s a completely different person. And he works so hard!”
“It’s difficult to reach his level in terms of quality but he’s a more hard-working player as well. You put Sturridge in the current team, even without injuries, and I don’t believe he would be a starting player. But you put Luis in this team - or any team in the world, really - and he’ll be a starting player. He presses, he kicks, he runs, everything. Sturridge is a top player but you can’t compare them in my opinion.”
Lots of people suggested that, with his creativity, Trent would eventually move to midfield. I know you don’t really like this idea. Why?
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea and he can do it very well but listen, I was a full back. And the more you play in your position, the better player you become. When I arrived in England, I was a very good attacking full-back but I wasn’t that good in defence. And then I became a better defender than I was an attacker. Because with the wingers you face in the Premier League, you have to learn to defend or you can’t play in this league. Trent is still just 21, he’s the best right-back in the world and there’s so much to improve for him. So why would you want to change his position?”
“If you turn him into a midfielder and he’s bad, everyone would say, ‘Why the hell would you change his position?’ And If he stays at the right-back, everyone would go, ‘Well, he’s the best right-back in the world so it’s normal that you don’t want to change anything.’”
“So if I was him, I wouldn’t change anything. I would go to a manager and tell him, ‘Listen, what are my weaknesses? Help me improve it because I want to be a full-back for Liverpool for the next 15 years, win titles and retire here and everyone will remember me as the best right-back in Premier League history’. That would be my decision. But of course it’s between Trent and the manager.”
Who were your best friends at Liverpool?
“When I played for Newcastle, my English wasn’t great so I was mostly talking with Gutiérrez, Coloccini, people who spoke my language. But when I arrived in Liverpool, I spoke English very well. My partner is English as well. So I talked to everyone, that’s why I love Liverpool so much. Apart from the fans and the enjoyment from playing on that pitch, I loved the club and how good everybody was treating me – from my teammates to people worked for the club. They still treat me so well, you know, I play for the Liverpool Legends team now. That’s why I feel what I feel about this club.”
“Off the field, I used to hang out with the Spaniards a bit more often but Dejan Lovren lived next to me so I used to come over to his house a lot as well. We used to have dinners with Mamadou Sakho, we even went to Paris with him.”
“Kolo Toure was with me every day! I know it doesn’t sound right but we used to shower together and talk while showering haha. We still have an amazing relationship with Hendo and Lallana. It’s hard for me to name one person you know. Again, this is why I love this club so much. It’s been great from the first day.“
I know you like Coutinho a lot. Why has he been struggling lately?
“You know, this is why there are so many psychologists in football now. When you’re happy, you show it on the pitch. You perform better. Coutinho used to be one of the main guys at Liverpool and then he arrived in Barcelona and there are Messi, Suarez, so many people in front of you. Everyone is at your level. And maybe he wasn’t at his best mentally.”
“In my opinion, Barcelona didn’t play him in his position. They played him really wide and Coutinho needs to play in middle, have the ball at his feet like he used to do at Liverpool. They would put him on the wing but he’s not Neymar, he’s a completely different type of player. Since then, he’s been struggling the way to become the player that he used to be.”
“But he’s still young and I believe he’ll return to his best. At Liverpool, you knew that in difficult games, Coutinho could make a pass or shoot from outside the box and change the game completely. He’s still a top player.”
You can sign one player for Liverpool. Who would it be? And you can’t say that we don’t need anyone.
“It’s very difficult to choose a player for the starting XI. But if I have to choose just one, I would choose Leo Messi on a free transfer haha. I’d put him as a number 10 and I’d tell him, ‘You don’t have to move too much, just give the ball to the front three and it’s all you have to do!’”
You’re an agent now. What’s it like?
“I watch a lot of football! We can’t travel right now but we still talk to players. It takes a long time to get a player, it can take years. It’s not easy. People see Jorge Mendes and Mino Raiola with the big players but it’s not easy. Just in Spain, there are thousands of agents. Plus, there are agents like me who don’t have the official status of an agent, my brother does. So imagine how difficult it is to make it. Obviously I have an advantage ‘cause I’m an ex-player and my brother has been in the business for a long time. There are a lot of more difficult jobs in the world so I don’t want to complain of course. But yeah, it’s a difficult job. Lots of hours of travelling, lots of hours of watching games, lots of hours of meetings.”
“And transfers… It’s not like someone calls you, says he wants your player and it’s done. People think it’s like that but there’s a lot of work behind the scenes. You go to a club, speak with them and mention a player. Then they look at two thousand different things because they’re watching so many players. So you try to convince them and this and that. But I’m loving it! I’m still watching football so much and travelling like I used to.”
“I feel important and I’m still in the business. I want to be such a man that no one in football can say a bad word about me. Even if I earn less, I don’t care, I want people to think highly of me. I want clubs to open their doors for me because they know I’m an honest guy. That’s my objective. Being honest, happy with myself and improving little by little. I don’t care about the rest.”
Have you had any big transfers?
“We had Jefferson Lerma moving from Levante to Bournemouth for 13 million, we were the intermediaries. But of course it was mostly my brother because I was going through a bad time at the time. I wasn’t too involved. And then we helped Gonzalo Villar move from Elche to AS Roma. But again, he’s not our player, I want to be clear here, we acted as the intermediaries. We get on very well with his agents and I’m still in touch with him.”
“Obviously, the agents are not players and I used to be a player so he asks me questions sometimes. My brother has a good relationship with AS Roma so we mentioned Villar. It took seven months to complete the deal so imagine the amount or work. But AS Roma trusted us and they were happy with him.”
One thing I know about you is that you’ve never swapped shirts with other footballers. Why?
“I tried once! I tried to exchange shirts with Roberto Carlos. He said he would bring it to me but he didn’t. Since then, I haven’t tried to do it with anyone else even though I played against Messi and Cristiano. If a player comes to me, no problem. But I’ve never been the first one to ask. To be honest, it’s something I regret. It would be nice to have a lot of shirts. Obviously, I can still get them ‘cause I have contacts but it’s not the same.”
“I was 19 when I asked Roberto Carlos and when he didn’t bring it, I told myself, ‘I’ll never do it again’. I never saw him after that game ‘cause I moved to another club and I’m sure he won’t even remember it now. He probably just went to their dressing room and completely forgot about it ‘cause nobody knew me at the time and so many players asked him to exchange shirts.”
“I have Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard shirts, though, so I have the best ones and I don’t need anything else!”