Con la Roja: Victor Valdés at DT
[MGEF: ^Oh my stars!]
It’s great to learn more about Víctor, especially the side of him that most people don’t get to see, the off the field persona. And he does appear to be a great guy (this team is full of them!), in addition to being a stellar model. He could certainly model full time, no?
If you listen to the rumors, Víctor Valdés (Hospitalet de Llobregat, 1982), the goalkeeper of Barcelona, is a strange person, who gets into fights easily, and in general, not very nice. That’s the impression that his penetrating stare and some urban legends give. But none of that is true, except if he has a double that arrives on time for the photo shoot, who greets everyone who’s waiting for him affably, and is sincere, without worrying about whether he appears nice or not. At the end of the interview, we are all left with the feeling that we just passed time with someone nice… including those who are fans of Real Madrid.
Q: In Murder in the First, one of your favorite movies, a prisoner tries to escape from Alcatraz, but is unable to do it. As a punishment, he has to stay there for several more years. Has something similar to that happened to you with the goal of Barça?
A: Not exactly. There’s no point of comparison between the story of a prisoner who can’t find liberty and that of a kid who wants to achieve a dream, although it’s doubtful at times.
Q: But you also wanted to escape from football: at the age of 18, you sat down with your family to tell that that being a goalkeeper was destroying you and that you wanted to live another life.
A: Yes, that’s true. When I was 18, I thought about doing something else. But I changed my mind after receiving therapy and with the support of my family. Thank goodness I didn’t make that decision…
Q: Have you ever felt the desire to do what Khalid Askri, the goalkeeper of FAR Rabat, did after a goalkeeping blunder: taking off his jersey and his gloves and leaving the game?
A: Well, when things don’t go well, you think about a lot of things. But abandoning the game is not something I’d do. I’m not one of those who give up.
Q: We know that you’re very superstitious. You avoid walking on the lines of the field, you cross yourself before the game starts, you like the color black, you have a dollar that brings you luck… when one of these superstitions doesn’t work, what do you do? Do you change them?
A: Yes, all of that is true. What do I do if one of them doesn’t work? It’s a matter of manias, I always option one and option two. If I put on a black shirt and we lose, then I’ll use another color the next game. Sometimes it’s very easy to have the feeling that certain things bring you luck and that others don’t. But through the years, I’ve given up a lot of manias and I’ve realized that some of them were just stupid.
Q: Is there any ritual that is still working for you?
A: Well, I’m very religious. I say a prayer before each game, which gives me serenity. I have this custom, yes.
Q: How do you keep yourself motivated when you’ve won everything?
A: When you achieve important victories, you experience very strong emotions that you want to experience again. That creates an addition that is always there, which obliges you to do more. In addition, as an athlete, you have the obligation to improve every day. I don’t know if my best years are still to come, as Pinto said, but I’m not the best person to judge that. But I will say that any athlete who’s 28 years of age has some years ahead and I’m not an exception.
Q: When you get nervous on the field, such as when someone is going to take a penalty against you, do you recite a mantra or use a psychological trick to calm yourself down?
A: Yes, there are moments during games when you move faster than you realize. But the obligation of a goalkeeper is to stay calm. I’m one of those who believe that you can only react quickly and well when you’re relaxed and calm. But sometimes it’s difficult (laughs).
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received in football that also applies to life?
A: A coach once told me to focus on the good things that I did, instead of obsessing over the errors. If one thinks positive things, it’s always easier for good things to happen. I suppose the law of attraction has to do with this. But to reinforce your self esteem, which is great, can’t serve as an excuse to stop analyzing your faults.
(Yes, go ahead and click on that middle picture. You know you want to.)
Q: Some people have think you’re aggressive, polemic, cocky… while others have great things to say about you. What is Víctor Valdés really like?
A: That image is the one I had and the one that I still have. What am I like? A very reliable person with my people, with my circle, very family-oriented, quite calm and someone that many times needs to be alone and get way from it all.
Q: Two of your best friends are Thiago Motta and Andrés Iniesta, who are like yin and yang. Is your secret to have found the equilibrium between your most introverted side and your most rebellious side?
A: That of the yin and yang is great. I would say that my rebellious side is linked to my younger years and forms part of my past. I was very impulsive and I made some mistakes. I think that maturity brings equilibrium to the life of everyone, and that’s not a secret.
Q: If it were up to you, who would you give the Ballon d’Or to?
A: Andrés Iniesta.
Q: What can you tell us about Guardiola that we don’t already know?
A: I can define him for you: Guardiola is obsessed with football, but in a positive way. He’s also a teacher because he teaches you to play a type of football that no one had attempted before. He’s also very persistent with his ideas. In those difficult moments during a game when things aren’t going well, he helps you win the game. I’ve never seen any coach like that.
Q: When you were very small, your brother Ricardo tried to score goals in the garage door that served as your goal. What do you keep behind that door now?
A: I’ve always loved speed and cars. But in reality I have the car that the club gave me, an Audi Q7. I’m happy with it, because it’s comfortable, there’s a lot of space… I don’t need anything more. But if I had to buy a car after leaving football, I think I would choose an SUV. I also like motorcycles, but they’re not compatible with being a footballer. I like Harley-Davidsons a lot, for their philosophy of liberty and the enthusiasm behind them.
Q: I also understand that you like electronic music, in addition to Bruce Springsteen. Who’s the DJ of Barcelona?
A: I consider myself a lover of rock music. I like AC/DC and Bruce Springsteen a lot. As for electronic music, there are some DJs like Tiësto or Van Buuren that I follow and enjoy. Dani Alves is in charge of the music in the locker room.
Q: On your left forearm, you have a tattoo of a Nordic warrior. What’s the meaning of that?
A: It’s Nordic and Roman. My friend tattooed it, like he has all my tattoos. I also have tattoos of the name of my son, Dylan (it’s not for Bob Dylan, but for its meaning, which is son of the sea), and my zodiac sign, Capricorn. I got the warrior during a time when I had to overcome something important. Each time I looked at it, I felt that it gave me strength.
Q: What is your idea of a perfect off-day?
A: A sunny day that I spend at the beach, with the wind blowing at 20 knots. I think I would eat grilled meat, although I also like rice a lot.
Q: Do you still have a dog? What did it teach you?
A: I have two dogs, a rottweiler named Otto and a German Shepherd named Cuper, which has nothing to do with Héctor Cúper or the Mini Cooper. In addition to being man’s best friend, a dog teaches you how to live each day to the fullest and brings you serenity. There are people who can’t imagine it, but you end up loving them a lot.
Q: Lately, it’s become quite fashionable for athletes to film commercials with beautiful girls. You have Nadal with Shakira. Or was it Piqué?
A: I don’t know anything about that (laughs).
Q: If we held a gun to your head and you had to chose a model, singer or actress to film a spot with, who would be the fortunate one?
A: I have a very pretty wife and I’m very much in love with her, and I’m sure she would come out stunning in the photos. I’ll stick with my wife.
Q: I remind you that you’re at gunpoint…
A: That’s even better, because it’s clearer who I would pick (laughs).