Alvaro Negredo opens up about football in the UAE
Words by Rob Chilton
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The former Manchester City, Real Madrid and Sevilla striker, 34, came to the UAE last year to provide the goals for Al-Nasr, the oldest club in the Arabian Gulf League
Capped 21 times for Spain, Negredo’s star presence is drawing new fans to the league and bringing people together through football. He spoke to EDGAR about his heroes, football friendships, Iniesta, and the Arabian Gulf League.
Ronaldo Nazario [the Brazilian Ronaldo] was my hero when I was younger. He was a role model for me, and such a fantastic player. I got his football jersey, which I still keep with me to this day.
I used to go to games at the Rayo Vallecano stadium with my siblings. It is the football team of my local neighbourhood in Madrid and I was lucky enough to get the chance to play for their professional team.
When I was a kid the players started to wear colourful boots but my mother didn’t like it. She advised me to not wear those kind of boots and only allowed me to play with black ones. I wanted to wear the Adidas Copa Mundial – so comfortable!
Actually, my favourite team is Rayo Vallecano. They are a team from an industrial area in Madrid where I grew up. But after a few years, my older brother played in Real Madrid’s academy so I became a fan of this team.
I have played with so many fantastic footballers during my career, but Andres Iniesta is the best. Being able to represent your country is a fantastic achievement in itself, but to play in the Spanish national team with him was a dream. His dribbling and vision were amazing, he made everything easier for the striker. His technical ability and mind for the game was absolutely sensational.
It was one of the happiest days of my professional career. Becoming European champions with one of the strongest and most talented national squads of all time was a privilege. I feel honoured to have been part of such an extraordinary squad of players.
I had many coaches who taught me lots of things, but Unai Emery helped me break into the Almeria side early in my career and played a crucial role in making me the player I am. I learned a lot working with him.
It is another rhythm, a different culture, but the game is the same everywhere. I would like to see more supporters in the stadium and I believe the local federation and league must tackle this.
The style of play has certainly changed. I think that comes with the game becoming more diverse – we see players and coaches of different nationalities moving abroad and implementing their tactics and philosophies on the game in that country.
I believe pursuing my dreams in football helped me to mature so much faster. My family educated me with core values, and to keep my personality and mentality regardless of the victories – it is one of the most important things to remember in the football world. You have to consider where you come from and also where you are today.
Every country and city where I played has marked my life, so I have fantastic memories of each place. The friendships I have made in those countries are something I will definitely miss.
I would like to be remembered as a kind player, both inside and outside the locker room. Goals and assists will always be there, you will find people who may like your style or not, but commitment and professionalism is a must and I showed that in every team I played for.
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