El País Interview: Victor Valdés

El Clásico is drawing near… which hopefully means we’ll be hearing a lot from some of our favorite La Roja players!

First up is Victor Valdés, who spoke to Luis Martín of El País about being a World Cup champion, Iker Casillas, and the upcoming El Clásico game!*

Faltan 5 días para El Clásico… ¡lo cual significa entrevistas con algunos de nuestros jugadores favoritos de La Roja!

He traducido la entrevista de Victor Valdés con El País al inglés, en donde habla sobre ser un campeón del mundo, jugar con Iker Casillas, y por supuesto, El Clásico.

*I skipped a few of the boring questions because they were… well, boring…

Has your life changed since becoming a World Cup champion?

Not especially.  My life changed more when my son was born!  The World Cup gave me a chance to take a step forward in my professional career.  Del Bosque calling me up on the last day gave me a lot of confidence.  I will be forever grateful to him.  On a personal level, it allowed people who didn’t know me change their perception of me as strange and controversion person.  I have no idea where that reputation came from since I have never had problems with any teammate.  I was lucky to meet Ochotorena, to work with Reina again, and to get to know a Casillas who was unknown to me…

Can you elaborate on Casillas?

I discovered a porterazo.  He is an amazing goalkeeper!  It’s different watching him on television than it is to have him in front of you.  You can tell he’s very good.  But I had never had the opportunity to work with him , and the training sessions are where you really see the dimension of a footballer.  Iker is impressive.  He has such power, such confidence… He is also a great guy, muy buen tío.  We had a great group with Iker, Pepe, and Ochoto.  Thanks to them, the World Cup left me, besides the satisfaction of the title, the feeling of continued growth.  Since I wasn’t going to play, I tried to help out in each training session and that made me a better goalkeeper, because I could see things from the point of view of someone who didn’t play, a different role, but rewarding as well. In that sense, the World Cup allowed me to keep growing and improving.

Do you feel as though more is expected of you?

No.  The demands are the same as day one.  Some days you may have to work harder than others, but the demands are the same.  I demand more of myself though, because I always want to do a little bit better.

Has being a World Cup champion changed people’s perception of you?

Yes, it always has been that way.  Again, I think the World Cup has allowed people forget the image I had of being a strange and controversial player, and I have no idea where that image came from.  I wanted to show people that I was a team player and could help with everything.  I think I achieved that.  I think that a lot of people, not just my teammates, changed their unfounded opinion of me.  But I am the same guy I’ve always been.  I’m not all “I won the World Cup and what about you?” Hombre, I do admit that when I see the replica (of the World Cup) that I have at home, I feel good remembering those days.  But I don’t like to look at what I’ve won.  It’s better to look at what you want to win again.  Feeling comfortable with success is not what I’m about.

Some of your teammates have said that playing against Madrid is the greatest professional motivator.  Is that the case for you?

For me, the motivation comes from wanting to beat Real Madrid.  I have been lucky enough to have been around to win a few clásicos, and that’s a huge motivator.  Beating Real Madrid is huge.  Part of it is because of the rivalry, but also for what it means.  Real Madrid is one of the best teams in the world.  That’s the reason why winning would be so tremendously gratifying.

What rituals do you have for a game as important as the one on Saturday?

The same ones as any other game.  I do warm-up exercises in the locker room, I wrap my left pinky finger and my ring finger, because, as a right-handed player, it’s easier to sprain the fingers on my left hand.

Your pinky finger isn’t looking so good.

At the time, I should’ve taken better care of my finger.  I can’t bend it or keep it straight. But it doesn’t bother me.

Is it possible to beat Madrid in four consecutive games?

We’re going to try to win the game on Thursday and… then we’ll see.  But yes, it is possible to win it all.  With the utmost respect to Madrid and the difficulty of playing an equipazo like them.  I don’t rule anything out.  We’re going for it all.

You like to windsurf.

I try to windsurf whenever I can.  In the summer, my wife knows we’ll take a little time for a vacation.  This year, we’re going to Bonaire in the Dutch Antilles, and of course, to see my friends in Fuerteventura, the people of Sotavento.  But there’s still a month full of challenges to overcome.  But yes, I love windsurfing, the sea… but I also love the mountains.  I like to be close to nature.  It gives me life.

That’s why you named your son Dylan, which means “son of the sea” in Welsh.

Yes, for that reason.  He’s a phenomenon.  I was at the pediatrician with him when Iniesta sent me a message telling me that I was going to the World Cup.  He experienced the finals in Valencia and Roma in the belly of his mother… he’s my good luck charm!  And you don’t know how much of a culé he is.  On game days, his mother puts the shirt of Barça on him, and although he’s still very small, he shouts, “Barça, Barça, Barça!”  He likes going to the stadium.  He’s with Barça until the death, like his father.


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