Updated Wednesday, May 25, 2022-01:57
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Good dark-haired, skinny as a fit bullfighter (four kilos less than when he was professional) and a backpack with books on his back.
Álvaro Arbeloa (
39 years old) rushes through the week of the Champions League final, squaring the agenda with difficulty: training sessions with the cadet from the white youth academy that he directs, events with the club as ambassador and the last coaching course that he completes in the headquarters of the Federation, in Las Rozas where he receives EL MUNDO for the interview.
He does not lavish much, between so much occupation.
"We'll sit right here on the stairs if you want."
The former side of the best Spanish team in history is, above all, a representative of a key era to understand Real Madrid today.
10 years ago, with Mourinho on the bench, lived the germ of a champion lineage that even now without its first reference (Cristiano Ronaldo) has a new European Cup 90 minutes away.
On Friday, wearing the official club jacket, he will travel to Paris.
How are you doing with your studies?
With this I finished the coaching courses, after two years.
There is talk that footballers give us the license... I would already bring here whoever says that.
It's harder than he thought.
The previous generation took it out in just one year and they have doubled it for us.
With this you could train at any level. You seemed headed for managerial work at the club, but suddenly you put your boots back on to be a coach. It was circumstantial.
I was in Madrid as an ambassador, a facet that I still enjoy and that helps me to get to know the club from within, things that you don't even know as a player.
I was focused on that work, but these courses for former professional players came out.
In the first, in which Raúl or Xabi Alonso were present, I couldn't enter because they were very inflexible with absences.
That I couldn't miss a day of class, they told me.
But I, being an ambassador, have trips, etc... Then I found out that a colleague who went to that course was missing a lot... Thank God the direction of the courses in the Federation changed and in the next promotion I was able to enter .
I decided to take advantage of the opportunity of the course, to have it, since life takes many turns.
And once you get into it, you like it.
What did your family tell you?
Being a coach has its risks, its uncertainties... Well,
, without free time, with four children that I have... My wife is the great victim of my returning to football: events, courses, training sessions, trips... You were a youth squad, like the boys you now form. very different generations.
We were in the street all day and now we have to kick them out to play football.
Now they are more protected.
And with electronic devices, the lifestyle has changed.
I tell them that they do not comment on the same mistakes that I made, but life teaches you more than coaches. Do you already know what kind of coach you are?
I am in the process of training.
This has been my first real year of training, because the previous one, with Madrid's Infantil A, between which the team was far superior to its rivals and covid, for which we barely competed or played tournaments outside...
Although they are kids and it has nothing to do with professional football.
I am a coach who is beginning to do.-Defensive?
Offensive?... A label?
The coach depends on the team he has, that's what I've already learned.
You have your ideas but you have to adapt to the players.
Leading a training session with the Cadete, at Valdebebas.realmadrid.com
His friend Xabi Alonso is already being raffled off. I was with him last week watching him train.
He is already in that phase where his next step is the elite, although I don't know where he is going to go or if he is going to continue one more year in the Real subsidiary.
I see him prepared for a club with demands and professional players. Let's move on to the Champios.
The week of the final will be long, right? Tickets are tough... When we got into a final, I would change my
and it said: 'I don't have tickets for the final'.
It was crazy, which I'm also noticing this year... You try to do a normal week, beyond Media Day.
Although there are things that change, of course, to start the trip, which is Thursday.
But it is better not to think too much, do good training and in the afternoon relax with the family. Does it influence how the season has gone?
Is there less pressure having already won a title, like the League in this case? The team doesn't care, I'm sure.
We in 2014 or 16 did not think about that.
A final is a historic opportunity, that you never know when it will come back and that, of course, you want to take advantage of.
One of the things that amazed me the most about this group and that I saw in the final in kyiv  was the naturalness with which they play the important games.
With that feeling of playing one more, and that is very important.
La Décima released the pressure. Yes, as happened to the national team with the penalties in the quarterfinals against Italy [Eurocopa 2008].
It is true that since Lisbon everything has gone very well.
Madrid has played finals and has won them all... one thing, by the way, that is dizzying... But that, winning the Décima, marked the beginning of an era that is still alive. Does Mbappé's refusal motivate the locker room?
I don't think that matters, honestly.
There is no better motivation than winning a Champions League for Real Madrid.
At a professional level you can not aspire to much more.
Neither will it influence nor do I think that the players will think of any kind of message. In a call to try to convince you, what would you have said? Well, I would remind you that in the final not only the two best teams of the moment face each other but the two best clubs in the world.
They are for history.
And neither history nor dreams can be bought.
In my opinion
And one day she will find out.
It's hard for me to understand that someone sees their dream pass by, a childhood dream, and not jump on it. Has this Madrid surprised you? If Madrid is in the final, it's not a surprise.
He makes the impossible a habit.
In the summer there were people who talked to you about the transition season... well, look, on the verge of a Champions League final and with the League won.
A huge merit.
They withstood the pressure and the doubts. He played for Liverpool, where the European Cup is also an obsession. It's as important as it is for Madrid, something special.
No English team has its European history and, therefore, the Champions League means so much to none.
And it shows as you arrive.
It is a different, special club, and it is the closest thing that exists to Real Madrid, saving the distances.
It is the biggest club in England, of course.
In Liverpool you can breathe its history, as in Madrid, whose legend is built around the European Cup.
We must remember that if we won on Saturday, we would have twice the number of Champions than the second team with the most, Milan (7).
Arbeloa, with Alonso and Gerrard, at Liverpool.EM
Please put on your coaching suit and take out the blackboard.
Liverpool is a very recognizable team, with very high pressure, suffocating pressure after loss, with a lot of rhythm.
Sometimes they leave numerical equality in defense, because they trust their central defenders a lot.
Madrid have to be prepared for that, to be squeezed up front, to have a lot of people on top of them when they recover... But if we can overcome those first moments when recovering the ball, we can create a lot of problems for them with Vinicius and with Benzema.
Knowing how to get out of that strong pressure from Liverpool will be one of the keys.
They talk about revenge for the lost final of 2018. Does that add up?
They are parties that have nothing to do with it.
It can be a motivation or also a slab, like things don't work.
The way Madrid got to the final could be an advantage.
If at any time situations from the qualifying rounds are repeated, such as Madrid drawing after losing, they may begin to think: 'Be careful, these are coming again'.
It could be a plus. PSG, Chelsea, City... Which night do you choose?
I never experienced anything like it.
In addition to the stadium, I don't know if because of the roof to be closed, it has had special acoustics, increased.
It's been three crazy nights, especially the one at City.
Of course, the trip to Paris, those games, no one is going to take that away from us now, but the icing on the cake has to be winning the final.
This is like playing a video game and after three hours and having killed all the monsters, suddenly, the final monster arrives... It's exhausting... Because after having spent so much, the worst remains, the monster harder.
were like this in 2022?
I have always been in love with Karim football.
It's hard not to be if you're lucky enough, like me, to have seen him train every morning.
He is unique, but it is true that what he is doing this year is incredible, at the height of being the best in the world, almost Martian, scoring extremely complicated goals at key moments, while also being the nine different that he was, with that ability of combination.
But now he scores a goal almost per game, something we thought only Cristiano and Messi could do.
what to say.
His first year was one of adaptation, with that goal against Manchester United as a lever of change.
And since then, a constant progression.
Without knowing what he has left, but he has a rope for sure for a while.What does Ancelotti have?As well as being a phenomenon in locker room management, he is something else.
He has a lot of experience and knows how to stay calm and send the right messages.
Then he organizes his teams well defensively and makes it pretty clear to the team what he has to do.
In attack he gives a lot of freedom, but he also gives you two or three keys to do damage to the rival team.
He doesn't constrain you too much.
Hopefully he will do the double and continue for a few more years.
In the club's trophy room, before the 13 European Cups.realmadrid.com
Do you envy not being in the locker room in a week like this?
I would love to be with
again , who will surely be a fundamental piece against Liverpool, talk about the game, live those sensations, have breakfast with my teammates, be in the day-to-day... 10 years ago we were in full effervescence of
, a movement that overflowed football.
You were the protagonist, on and off the field.
How do you remember that time?
Do you regret something?
What's up, not at all.
I did things with a clear conscience of being loyal to my club, my teammates and my coach, which is what a Real Madrid player has to do.
I am also very proud to be able to continue calling José [Mourinho] a friend to this day and to continue to maintain contact.
Hopefully I can visit him in Rome soon to see his current training method, like I did with Xabi.
I remember that many people said: 'When Mourinho leaves, he is going to leave this like a piece of land'.
Well, look, blessed lot that José left... It's not taking credit away from
say that Mou's work laid the foundations for what we achieved later.
We touched the final, it gave us experience for those moments.
He deserved to have won a Champions League with Madrid.
But a large part of Real Madrid has realized over time all the good that Mourinho did for Madrid. Now you are another on social networks, much more tempered.
Is it difficult for you to control yourself?
At the beginning, when I started to be an ambassador for the club, it was quite difficult for me.
But there is no other choice, because you speak on behalf of Madrid.
Now my family is calmer, but you never know when that Álvaro Arbeloa may come back...
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