The 32-year-old parakeet went through the quarries of Barça, Madrid and Espanyol on a path full of adventures until his confirmation in the elite
«I came to think if so much suffering was worth it, but here I am. Now I feel a bestial tranquility with myself », he confesses
He was born in Valls, but grew up in Puigpelat, his beloved town. Aleix Vidal, 32, scored a great goal against Madrid and this Saturday he will face Barça, one of the clubs in his hectic career. The parakeet full-back reflects in an interview with EL PERIÓDICO about his path before the Camp Nou derby.
-He has been at Espanyol for three months and he looks very satisfied. Do you perceive in the club that illusion of returning to the elite after a hard year? I am super happy here, they have received me wonderfully. In the dressing room you can see that illusion to be with the best again. Many players went through a very difficult situation two seasons ago, but now we are doing things very well. You can see that effort, that suffering. It is not easy to recover from those things, when you descend and rise again there is always the memory, the fear that the same thing will happen again, but we are very close and I anticipate a good season.
-Diego López has just turned 40 in top form and debuted in First at 24, just like you. Are things valued more when they cost so much to get them? It’s true, I arrived at Almería at 21 years old and made my debut at the First Division at 24 after a long journey. Those of us who have suffered and have had bad luck at times value more the passing of the years. It’s about being mentally strong. That push is always missing, that bit of fortune. Then comes everything rolled, but the hard beginnings are never forgotten.
-Starting from scratch, what is your first memory with the ball? I started fighting when I was 4 years old at the Valls school. My father was a more or less decent player. My two older brothers did not like football too much and he went overboard with me. I was in the village team, hitting four balls, but I grew up and I saw that I was quite good at it. I started as a playmaker.
-You went through the quarries of Barça, Real Madrid and Espanyol. It is quite a unique journey. I was very young then. I arrived at Barcelona when I was 12 years old, then I returned to my hometown, Madrid signed me, I returned to my hometown again, Espanyol signed me, they transferred me to Damm, then to Greece … I have a story to write a book and it would go a long way. In Madrid for example, I could not continue because studies were not my strong suit, why are we going to fool ourselves. He did not comply in such a demanding institute. We tried to find a solution together, but it was not possible.
“Social networks are a lie. They hurt everyone, whether you are a footballer, a model or a carpenter”
-There are too many changes in youthful age. Did you have a bad time? In some moments yes. There are too many comings and goings that you don’t always understand well. When I arrived at Espanyol they loaned me to Damm and I was top scorer alongside Sergi Enrich, but they still didn’t believe in me. Paco Herrera had a friend in Greece and he told me to go there. It was just a little season. I participated little, but I learned. Another experience. When I came back from Greece I went to play Third, in La Pobla de Mafumet. To my house. The illusion is not the same, you get older and you see that the years go by and it gets complicated. You go to Mallorca and you don’t find confidence either. One thinks many things. You ask yourself to what extent it pays on a personal and financial level to always be around, away from your people and your friends. The last chance was Almería and there the fat lie with Lucas Alcaraz. He was a vital coach for me. I will always say it until I go to my grave. He needed that confidence, he came from playing in Second B and going down to Third. I arrived at the Almería subsidiary, I played 41 games and everything started to go my way.
-Now there is a lot of talk about mental health in sports. Do you consider this aspect key? Definitely. The head is 90% in sport. When you are Messi or Cristiano, everything is very beautiful, but many players do not go through good sports situations in our lives. I have suffered them, I have known how to carry them and I have come out strengthened. You have to be psychologically prepared for it. Surely there are thousands of cases of athletes who have not reached higher for the mental issue, not for the sport. If your head bends you’re not going anywhere. I came to think if so much suffering was worth it but here I am. Now I have a beastly peace of mind with myself after so many years of effort.
-Social networks have become the usual communication channel for many footballers. What do you think of them? The nets are a lie and they hurt everyone, be you a footballer, a carpenter, a model or whatever. I only have Instagram because I did it when I arrived in Barcelona. It’s the only thing I ever wear. A life of lies is lived there, I don’t have to go proving what I have. There are some positives, I don’t deny it, but 90% is a sham.
“It is easy to say that it is a thorn in the ground, but nobody put a gun to my head to sign for Barça”
-With Sevilla he left in a magical 2015 in which he won the Europa League and became international. Barça paid 18 million for you, but you did not play for six months due to the FIFA sanction. Do you regret that decision? You never know what would have happened if I hadn’t signed. It is easy to say that it is a thorn in the face, that being six months without playing was a burden, but it was my decision, nobody put a gun to my head to sign for Barça. I went through a difficult time and then I broke my ankle when I was the undisputed starter. And again the same. In life everything changes in a moment. To the footballer and to anyone. There were three courses with little prominence but three years before I was at Almería. He would never have imagined that he would arrive at Barcelona.
-He arrived at the Camp Nou as the future relief of Dani Alves, who was in his final stretch. Are you surprised by the return of the Brazilian? I have a good relationship with Dani, but they are things that do not concern me. They are part of the turns that football takes. It is not worth dwelling on. We only care about playing a great game, leaving everything to ourselves and going out with our heads held high.
-Have you dreamed of repeating the goal you scored against Madrid against Barça? Would you celebrate? That topic does not keep me awake. I am not a killer. I can’t say if I would celebrate it. Surely yes because I don’t mark many either [ríe]. I just need to put one in and stand still.