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29.06.2010 11:46

Txiki: "I feel proud of the job I've done"

Sandra Sarmiento

Txiki Begiristain believes that appointing Pep Guardiola has coach was his best decision as technical secretary of FC Barcelona, but does not believe that trainer has yet surpassed Johan Cruyff’s achievements.

The outgoing Begiristain spoke candidly with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat about his seven years working upstairs, after a glittering career as a player at Camp Nou, and reflected on the pressures, excitement and decisions that went with such a high profile role.

Are you satisfied with your work over the past seven years?

“I am content, I am happy because overall things have gone well. We began with problems and the same happened in Frank Rijkaard’s last season, but we have lifted things back up and put Barça back at the top of world football. Of course, there are things we could have done better, but I am going feeling pleased.”

What have you learned in your role as technical secretary?

"That you have to make decisions every second. You have delegate, but you are still involved in some way in almost everything. Decisions are made with the risk that somehow you have to take responsibility for. In football responsibility is shared, but in this job you are out on your own. I have had great support though from a very effective secretary and I think we can all be proud of the job we have done."

You were valued within the club, but did you feel the same from people outside?

2010-05-21_PRESENTACION_DAVID_VILLA_005.jpg"Yes, I have received great warmth throughout my time here. It was more difficult in the years when we did not win anything, but in general it was good. The thing with Barça is that it is very exacting and can be complicated because there is an active opposition. In the end though I think that the people in the street have appreciated my work and that pleased me."

Has the responsibility involved changed you? It is said you laugh less.

"I am trying to recover that, but it is true. I have always felt I had a great sense of humour and that I was a strong person. But making difficult decision does change your character because they can hurt even those close to you. The tension is always there as well. That has changed me, but I will recover it."

Has it been a lot worse as technical secretary compared to being a player?

"A lot worse. Although, when things go well you can relax much more. I did not imagine the level of tension there would be. I did not imagine that so much would depend on results. You win and things are good. You lose and they are very bad. When you lose all the decision you make appear to be wrong. You are constantly reminded of them and that makes things difficult but it is part and parcel of the job at this club. Barça is a huge entity."

You said recently that appointing Pep Guardiola was the best decision you took throughout the seven years. Why?

"Because it was the most difficult one. We had a team that had just reached the semi finals of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, but certain things meant that it was the end of an era. It was a necessary but complicated decision to make and to do so with a motion of censure also thrown in made it even more difficult. Time has shown though that it was correct."

Does Pep have any faults?

2009-07-23_GUARDIOLA_06.jpg"It is difficult to think of any. I have only advised him that he needs to relax more and not live his job. He is exacting and obsessive in his work. There were a couple of months when he appeared to lose weight and was suffering. I said to him he needed to change things. He dedicates the hours he needs, but when he goes home he should try to switch off if he can. The danger of burn-out is there and that controlling everything is impossible."

Why did you say you have the feeling Guardiola would not be coach of Barça for a long time?
"He will grow and has to change, but there is not chance that he will lose his effectiveness. We must not forget that he is a young coach and will continue to learn. he will not lose anything though if he dedicates his time to other things. If he maintains a balance then he can be a coach for many years."

Do you think he has surpassed Cruyff?

"Not yet, no. Cruyff won four consecutive leagues and cycles cannot be short. They are not made over two years. When Frank was in charge we had two great years and then team fell away. Pep has had two marvellous seasons and needs another couple to reach the same level. Eras are longer, but Pep could achieve that."

Is Rijkaard's role sufficiently valued?

"Pep's success would have been impossible without Frank's success. Frank began it all. The 4-3-3, the signing of Davids in the first season and with Frank we began to build the team each summer. Pep has benefitted from a lot of the good things in that team. He was missing a few pieces like Frank said, but the two of them spoke and Pep was helped by the work that the club had been doing in recent seasons. Pep then raised the level again with his spirit, morale, knowledge and tactical awareness and that gave us the treble. But he owes part of that to Frank."

What was the most exciting moment in the past seven years?

_DSH8733.JPG"Paris. After Wembley it appeared to be impossible for Barça to win again. It was very exicting because you have the feeling that you job is not complete unless you have won the Champions League. Abu Dhabi was also great because we had not won that trophy. We have managed to achieve a feeling of tranquillity. Winning the league this season just gone was the best way to finish this term in office as well as on a personal level."

How is dealing with agents?

"Very diverse. There are things that the agents do not do like having a deal with the player then the agent comes and breaks it. But I have found that they are very professional people. I have worked with the best in the world."
Txiki: “I feel proud of the job I've done“

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What will you do now?
"I need to rest and I want to rest. I like the work that I do even though it is very intense and there are difficult moments, but it is very exciting. I like the intensity and the only way I would not take a break is if I find something big and could see what can be achieved."

Have you received any offers?
"I have had conversations, but there has been nothing formal. I know the owners of some very interesting clubs, but more with one eye on the future. If there was a great off on the table I would consider it. I played abroad as a player and would like to think about doing it again as technical secretary."

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