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29.05.2008 09:57

Gerard Piqué thrilled to be back

Jaume Marcet

After four season away from Barcelona, Gerard Piqué is back at the club he grew up at. “When the option arose it was the only option I chose because playing in this shirt is unlike playing in any other”.

Gerard Piqué claims to be good in the air and able to play at centre back or in midfield, and feels he has FC Barcelona in his blood. Speaking exclusively to Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat he spoke about his aspirations for the future and memories of the past at Barça, in his first major interview since returning to the club he has always held dearly in his heart.

What does it mean to come back to Barça?

piquesig270508_x4x.jpg“It is a dream I have had since I was small. I have been a member since I was born. I used to go the ground when I was young and played at all youth levels until I was 17, and when I left I knew there was a risk I’d never come back. Returning is a dream come true and playing for Barça is something you can’t describe in words. It’ll be so nice.”

In your case it is a union of work and sentiments...

“That’s important because it isn’t easy to feel the club colours in football these days but I am from Barcelona, I am Catalan and have been a fans since very young and have always felt the colours.”

In your time at Manchester United you have kept in contact with Barcelona...

“Of course you follow things from afar. But you have a new shirt and have to be professional. In the Champions League I wanted Manchester to win because I play for that club, but in the Spanish League I always wanted Barça to win. There was a time when Barça won the League and European Cup, and you follow them like any other fan.”

Had you ever planned to return to Barça?

“You always leave the doors open to a return to Barça, but you can’t choose the moment, you have to take it when it comes. The train only comes by once. When the option came up it was the only one I took and it is like coming back to my family and it is a pleasure to play in this magnificent stadium.”

How have these four years changed you as a footballer? Is it a different Piqué to the one who left 17 years ago?

piquesig270508_x13x.jpg“Yes, of course I’m different. I am still the same person, but a lot of things have changed personally and professionally. Living alone, going to a foreign country, being in a squad with a different culture, it makes you grow up and learn new things. And there were a lot of stars in the squad, the team has just won the European Cup and playing with them helps you to learn and grow up a lot.”

What does being a European champion mean to you?

“It’s touching the sky. It is a very special feeling, it is the best you can do at club level and doing it so young means a lot for the team, for me, for the fans. It was very special and I hope to repeat that as soon as possible with Barça.”

What have you learned from Alex Ferguson? Is he very different to what you were used to here?

“It’s a different culture. Professionally in Spain I have only been on loan to Zaragoza but you can still make comparisons. There is a distance between Manchester and Zaragoza. Ferguson was more like a father to the players than a manager. In fact, a manager is not the same as a coach, which is what Carlos Queiroz did, he prepared the training sessions. Sir Alex Ferguson is closer, he is about the way you live and feel inside the club.”

You have played with Messi. Are you excited about playing with him again?

“Yes, yes. I remember when we were young and wondering if we could do this professionally. What he does now is what he always did, and it was and will be a pleasure to be with him.”

Will your experience at Zaragoza help?

“Yes, of course. English and Spanish football are different in terms of characteristics and the playing style and you do need to adapt, I know that. I already know a fair bit about what football is like here.”

Have you spoken to Milito?

piquesig270508_x11x.jpg“Yes. He got injured and we spoke, he’s a great player. We became good friends at Zaragoza, we used to room together and we understood each other, he is a magnificent person. I hope he recovers quickly because he is a basic element of the team.”

Pep Guardiola

“I didn’t know him personally when I was young but he was one of my heroes when my dad brought me to games, he always spoke about him, and what a leader he is. It is important to have a coach like that. There is trust and with him we will win titles and the fans will be proud of us.”

Some of the fans don’t know much about you. How would you define yourself?

“1.90, very tall. I play well up front, I can play at centre back or in midfield, I like to play the ball from the back, that’s what they taught me at Barça.”

Where can you still improve?

“You can always improve whatever your age. At 21 I have experience, but need more. Work with both feet, left and right. There are always tactics and skills to learn. The best players are still learning when they are 35.”

What do you hope to win at the club?

piquesig270508_x15x.jpg“Of course I am hungry to win, if I'm not at 21... I have won the league and Champions League with Manchester and if I can do that with Barça that would be even better, because it’s my team. It would be great to win the league, the Champions League, everything we possibly can. People always remember you for the things you have won.”
Gerard Piqué thrilled to be back
What do remember about your early days at Barça?
“I remember there was no Under 10 team, I started at Under 11. Before there was a group of supporters clubs and all of the young players hoped to get picked for the Barça squad. It was tremendous to play for Barça. You are a kid, you have supported them all your life and you are proud to play for Barça. Time went by and I was winning titles. The 87 generation included Messi, who is in the first team now, Cesc, who went to Arsenal, and some players that are still at Barça B and I am sure the ones like Marc Valiente and Víctor Vázquez are doing well enough to be promoted. It was a good team and I enjoyed it a lot, we didn’t lose a league game for years. That was one of the best youth teams the club has ever had.”

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