He says, loaded with reason, that it is an “infinite” sport. Jorge Valdano (Las Parejas, Santa Fe, Argentina) got on a ball as a child and at the age of 65, he has not yet gotten off. He was world champion, coach and manager of Real Madrid. After losing a duel against Mourinho, he was recycled as a football philosopher. He rubbed that ball as if it were a lamp and the genie granted him so many things that he does not dare to say what was lost because of him. “I may not have enjoyed my children more when I was young, but I am taking revenge on my grandchildren.”
Question. Did you get more upset in the field or in the offices?
Answer. While playing, he did not process bad experiences. I grew up playing and for me being a professional soccer player was like prolonging my childhood. On the other hand, the office builds up tension, for me it is a less natural space.
P. Tell me about the day after, when you realize that you are no longer going to lift thousands of butts at once in a stadium.
R. Now I am on an educational platform on the web, Oxigen, and I have prepared a course on that because it is indeed a critical moment. The same day you lose the game, the great passion, the privilege of fame and a disproportionate income. When you play you never talk about this, it is a taboo, just as your friends do not talk to each other about death. I would have liked to have been forced to prepare for that moment. It is a deficit of the clubs because football is present rabid.
P. He had a good tantrum over the arrival of the VAR. Was it so much?
R. I’m afraid that football will lose its wild side because I think that’s what makes it so special. There is an animal back room in all of us that we need to satisfy in some way and football is for that. Technology is the opposite of savagery and it is also very invasive. But the VAR brings one more point of justice and with that it is very difficult to disagree.
P. The goal of the last century is clear, Maradona in the 1986 World Cup. This one?
R. It is yet to be entered. It is that the goal of the last century turned a person into a hero. It was not just an aesthetic issue, not even purely football. It transcended everything, as the same character. We are going to have to wait: we have to lose a war, many things have to happen… (laughs).
P. When was the last time you spoke with (the hand of) God?
R. I don’t remember, but it was a long time ago. The worst thing about Maradona’s last years is that he broke his entire chain of affections: with his ex-wife, his daughters, the friends who loved him the most … What struck me the most about his death is that one did not know who to give the condolences and yet it gave the feeling that it had to be given to the whole country. He was a major character. I am an absolutely conciliatory person, but the only two times that I have been about to hit myself was being with Diego by invasive people who would not let us speak. That was his life 24 hours a day and it didn’t matter if he was in Argentina, Naples or Switzerland. It is impossible to be Maradona and be normal.
P. What would you have liked to say to him if you could have said goodbye?
R. I think that in his last years he suffered a lot. I have had very deep talks with him. One day, when I was the coach of Tenerife, he came to play with Sevilla and at night we talked late at the hotel. He told me very hard things about his life. And I left disheartened, with the feeling that a guy was screaming for help and couldn’t give it to him. It is impossible for God to hear you.
P. “I don’t know about Barcelona, but I did everything possible to stay,” Messi said. You know? Was his departure irremediable?
R. We are in a football that the economy is taking over and the feeling is that Barça did not have a coin to give Messi. An illusion was fed and as everything was very hasty it gave the feeling that he was expelled. In a game where identity is so important, expelling a legend is something that is not only painful, but almost inexplicable.
P. Are you sad about his departure or do you prefer the classics without him?
R. His departure does a lot of damage even to Real Madrid because one is also measured in terms of rivals. For Madridistas there is an advantage, but it is not competitive. Simply, now Messi will become a football genius, not only will he belong to Barça, but as a consolation he is very miserable (laughs).
P. The interview of youtuber Ibai Llanos to Messi generated controversy in journalism. What did you think? Do you consider him a colleague by profession?
R. It is a sign of this time and I do not fight with this which is also my time.
P. How many seasons are left of the soap opera Mbappé?
R. At most one. He will be free, it will depend exclusively on him, no longer on the club, and we assume that if Madrid sends him a mail at least he will answer it.
P. And why has the first season of the soap opera been so long?
R. Why Florentino [Pérez] he negotiated for the first time with a club that does not seem to be interested in money.
P. Have you heard the audios of Florentino Pérez?
R. Yes all. I have a maxim: to always put myself in the place of the victim, and in this Florentino was the victim of indecency. Any comment plays the indecent game.
P. Is it always so stylish?
R. No. Every now and then the chain comes off.
P. What usually causes it?
R. Disappointments with close people. I believe a lot in consensus, for me it is impossible that two intelligent people do not meet somewhere, but I learned late that this is not always possible. It is one of Mourinho’s teachings (laughs).
P. So he learned it hard
R. Gross, yes.
P. Call Paris Saint-Qatar to Paris Saint-Germain. Do you remember the time the business took over? When did football money get out of hand?
R. There are steps. Berlusconi was one; Manchester United, another. And I must confess that the galactics were the final step. I think they were a before and after and in that before and after I was the before. I remember the first tour of Japan. We weren’t used to a preseason turning into training sessions with 40,000 people, lunches with sponsors…
P. Can it be stopped?
R. There is no way to stop it. It is not the dynamics of football, it is the dynamics of globalization, with the good, for example, that Messi is a global phenomenon, and the bad, which is that there are fewer and fewer rich teams, but they are very rich, and more teams. poor people who endanger their survival. Soccer represents all the flaws of globalization.
P. Isn’t it nonsense that a T-shirt costs 130 euros?
R. It’s the market law. It is not a piece of cloth, it is sentimental content.
P. Would you compete in places like Qatar or Saudi Arabia?
R. Yes, because I am not General San Martín, I am not a liberator of the world. I represent the soccer pride of my country. No more aspiration than that. I did not play the 78 World Cup [durante la dictadura argentina], but I would have played it.
P. Florentino Pérez assured in the middle of the pandemic that the Super League was to save football and that in 2024 they would be dead. Did it happen?
P. Do you think there will be a Super League?
R. It is very difficult for clubs that have the world as their market and clubs that have their city as their market to be part of the same competition. Everything leads us there. It is a fight of the future against tradition, and in the war between novelty and tradition, novelty wins almost every day.
P. And where does that leave the small clubs?
R. In a very delicate situation. What happens is that we tend to believe that Madrid fans are more fans than Eibar fans and no, the sentimental commitment is the same, what increases is the number.
P. Why does power pair so well with football? Is there something of an urban legend in the fame of the Bernabéu box or is it what it seems?
R. Berlusconi began to nestle power in Milan. Jesús Gil did something similar in Spain. Popularity has become a value and there is nothing more popular than soccer, therefore, if popularity is a power, soccer gives power.
P. What impression did Spain make on you when you arrived and how do you see it now?
R. I did not find differences when arriving. But 45 years passed and Spain that went up like a rocket and Argentina that went down like another rocket. Now they are two worlds.
P. What do you have left in Argentina?
R. Affections, smells, desire to go.
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