Photo by ©Isaías Cruz Without going any further, Espai Mediterrani
Initially the reason for the interview was because of him being the only player in the neighbourhood who has reached the 1st division, but then the sporting part has ended up being just the excuse to learn a little more about José “son, Aleix” father, or the coordinator who cares as much or more about training people than players.
He took me to try out for Barça. It was three days. In the first two days I did nothing. I had not played on a soccer field, only on the track and on the beach, at Club Vell, with a group of friends trained by Miquel Canillas. The third day, already adapted, I did better, and I stayed.
I was in the lower categories of Barça until I was 14 years old when I was “invited” to leave. I was sent away mainly because of my physique. At that age I was frail.
Don’t think so. I came to Barceloneta and the first day the older Victor Cánovas “Vitico” grabbed me and told me “don’t think you” ll play here just because you came from Barça. I played 4 seasons. One in infantile and the second season already of juvenile and more “cresidito”, and then the Barça came back looking for me. I went there for one week to train but I was happier in my world in Barceloneta.
It’s a matter of feeling where your place is at every moment.
Two weeks later, the first team winger, Fausto, breaks his collarbone. Hernández, the coach, called me and I have a lot to thank him for, because on Tuesday he came to training. I was a 16-year-old kid who entered a boys locker room scared. But I met teammates like Tomás, Olmo, Aparicio, Capdevila, José Luis, Fausto, Kocsis, Luisito, Oporto, Riera and so many others who protected me and made me feel like one of their own from the first day.
First, he put me on the bench, and I felt bad. But the following Sunday at home I had a good game. I didn’t stop playing even with a fever of 40.
One match day I woke up with a fever of 40. I put on a coat and my grandfather took me to the field to tell the coach that I couldn’t play. His answer: “you play, you solve the game, you change and go to bed”. I scored the 3-1 in the 88th minute and he changed me.
I was followed by Real Madrid and Espanyol, who finally signed me paying another 1.5 million pesetas for sports equipment.
As a player, you kill for the team you are playing for at that moment. Obviously, in my case, the colours are clear: 20 years working at the club plus 7 years as a player. In other words, half of my life.
Anecdotal. I only scored three goals in 1st division, and two of them were useless. This one 5-1 against Valencia, another one at Camp Nou losing 5-2 and a 1-0 win at Bilbao. This one was valuable.
I picked up an ankle injury. I did it in about 24 hours of the Repla. The only ones I played because the clubs wouldn’t let me play before. In my debut, a Melilla- Mijas the afternoon that I had sworn flag, I played a great game. But I set the bar so high that it could only get worse. Next match against Jaén in Copa and the front page of the newspaper headlines Alex goes totally unnoticed. I remember a fan who always called me “Catalan, go to your land, you have deceived”. When two years later I made my debut in the 1st division, these Melilla fans, I am convinced that they did not believe that it was the same Alex Garcia.
I returned to Melilla and Hospi, which was the Espanyol subsidiary. Until I made my debut with Clemente two years later at the age of 22. Another set of circumstances.
In soccer and in almost everything in life, for things to go well for you, you must be prepared, but also situations that go in your favour must coincide.
In 1988 Espanyol went through the UEFA qualifiers against all odds (Inter, Milan, Vitkovice), and reached the semis against Brugge. Clemente thought, “I have two players who are playing their best and I have to rest them, or I’ll burn them out”. They were Job (right back) and Valverde (winger).
Look at the reserve team and at that moment I’ve played 10 games and I’ve been the best player. If I had watched 10 games before, I wouldn’t even have been called up. Eloy and me were called up. I made my debut at home against Bilbao at the starting 11. I wasn’t well, very tense, and he changed me. The next match he put me back in Mallorca and in spite of losing I appeared in the dream team in the press together with two other strikers that maybe you know: a certain Baquero, a certain Butragueño and me!
But I suffered. If I wasn’t called up it was a drama, at home I felt the pressure of the stands too much and I preferred to play away.
I want to make it very clear: I’ve been happier in any other category I’ve played in than in the 1st division. I have been happy playing here at the Repla or on the beach because it was a pleasure.
I was happy when I finally understood where happiness was. In my last years at Gavà it was an enjoyment. I enjoyed training. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave. The match is a circumstance that I think is overvalued compared to training.
I was very happy in Vitoria. It was a beautiful and footballing city. We went up to 2nd A. I would have stayed there to live.
Fellowship. I will never forget the quick chess games, another of my passions, in the coach. I used to organize them and I always won them, (ha ha).
I had 4 promotions and 3 relegations in my career. But my last game as a professional in Gavà was a relegation. That I could not avoid and I have the “thorn” of not being able to help the team to be promoted in the future. At almost 38 years old, I think I had a year of rope left, but I had promised Pili, my wife, that I would leave it and I had already broken the promise years before.
I think it’s a question of circumstances. I don’t consider myself better than Benito, Andrés, Juanito, Molina and many others.
A great among the greats, Juan.
Heh heh, you’re learning. Someone sees you on the right day, gives you the option and then you take advantage of it. Sporting talent exists in most of the guys who play. What makes the difference is what you do with that talent. I’ll give you a tip.
Talent at a younger age can even work against you. Because when you are superior you don’t make an effort and when it is equalized later on you no longer acquire that sense of effort and you get ahead of those who have been struggling to “survive” for a long time. 80% of the players I have had in youth soccer teams are from the first quarter of the year. Of course, in Benjamins and Frisians, these months of difference give them a certain physical advantage. But the ones at the end of the year who are struggling in that disadvantageous scenario for them, if they surpass you are usually the ones who make the difference. At the club we only have thirteen players from the last quarter, but of these thirteen, seven are top . Conversely, only 30% of those 80% born in the first quarter are top.
I started exact sciences, after the army I tried to enter INEF which I did not succeed for some reason, I did history and finally I entered INEF. My typical day was to attend class, train at Sarrià and return to take notes at the Uni .
In the school itself for 29 years. Now in reduced working day to combine it with my work in the Ciudad Deportiva.
The key is the player’s family. In many sports they want the parents as far away as possible. They are a pain in the ass who only see their child as the only one and the best. I do the opposite: I take the parents with me, I let them know firsthand what we do. That way we don’t create doubt or mistrust.
This tablet contains all the information on all my players. I talk about their performance on the field and also in their studies. Fermín, the father of a boy in the infantile team, told me that we apply the 3 C’s: communication, trust (Spanish – confianza) and collaboration. If you communicate well and when it’s time, you will have his trust and he will collaborate with you. And the first communication should be with the family. They will tell me in real time, anything negative or positive that happens to their child. Because everything affects them. All the parents have my phone number, and they should call me so they can anticipate and tell the coach “be careful, his grandfather has died, be tactful”. Because the coach is not part of that parent-player-me structure.
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