I like football for many reasons and one of these is that it offers you the possibility of getting revenge in the blink of an eye. I spent my first Boxing Day at home without playing since I arrived in England when things were at their worst (after 4 games without playing). Certain circumstances made me play against Rotherham and from there it’s like the previous month never happened. I enjoyed it against Aston Villa and played again against Millwall. And I finally played a full game!! If you work hard, football always gives you another chance. It is funny but 2015 has started brighter, with better sensations and with more optimism. Football wise, happier. A new year to enjoy. Let’s enjoy, fight and work to show everybody that we can get out of this one.
In Sheffield, on Boxing Day, we had two injuries and one sending off, so I was at least on the bench against Rotherham. Without time to think about it, only 20 minutes into the game, I had to come on to substitute Perkins, who got injured and things went rather well. We managed to equalise right at the end and from there, everything has improved. I think those were my best minutes since I arrived at Blackpool, and even though in the first half we really suffered, later in the second half our performance was much better.
But if I start from the end, things are even better. The game against Millwall on Saturday was a final for us. Yes, I know that given our position in the table, every game is like a final, but beating Millwall was twice as important so they didn’t gain an almost definite advantage over us. The way our pitch is at the moment to play football is rather difficult. I call it grass but it is hard to find a square meter of proper grass and when I find some I will do the Mexican wave. I keep looking but can’t find it but I keep my head high and try not to worry too much about it. We fought, we kept pushing, we helped each other, we passed the ball well and finally luck was on our side.
Against Aston Villa I had played nearly all the game and on Saturday I played the whole 90 minutes and I felt really good. This is great because when you gain trust, your hopes get high and the ball stops been a rock. If you are bad on the ball, it will always pay you back, and in the last two games I have noticed there is chemistry between the ball and I.
The luck I was talking about is the one which we didn’t have in Birmingham. At Villa Park I had my debut with Swansea in the Premier. It was the 2nd January and I will never forget it because Brendan Rodgers never gave me many chances. We travelled just the day before. That day he selected 21 players and I was used to being the one not selected but after we arrived at the hotel and finished the technical speech and dinner, he pulled me aside and told me I was going to be in the first eleven. “I know you have hardly played and I don’t think you are not expecting this, but what I know you can play football and it is now time to start showing it”. That is what he told me. I remember it because it really surprised me. And we won. It was our first away win and I played a good game.
Well, two years later I was back at Villa Park with Blackpool in the FA Cup. Fantastic. A very nice ground with spectacular grass. To play on a green pitch was great!! I can assure you it feels different and you lower the difference there could be between two teams of different categories. We gave them a tough game, we ran like lions and we were so close to victory that in the end the defeat really hurt us. If I hadn’t gone blank in the 85th minute I would still be jumping for joy. Lewis passed me a long ball and when I look ahead I saw only grass. I ran like mad and with my energy levels quite low I was done when I got to the box, being left footed I had to dribble with my right foot and didn’t manage to score. Few seconds later I was substituted and suddenly Benteke scored for Villa in the 89th minute.
A shame. It really hurt us despite knowing that our battle was somewhere else but we gained a bit of encouragement and we knew that if we played that way against Milwall, we wouldn’t miss again. To draw on Saturday wouldn’t have been terrible and to lose a secure relegation, so you can imagine how happy we were after the win. When Peter scored just past the half hour I paid attention at the reaction of our fans and it was like an adrenaline injection. They went crazy! The believed in us and pushed us a lot. There was some kind of special connection and I felt it on the pitch and realised that nothing is impossible no matter how hard it seems. I also felt an important part of the team and although I haven’t scored yet, I feel that good that I think it will happen soon.
Now we are travelling to Wolves who have only won one game in the last five at home and after that to Watford’s Vicarage Road that, like Wolves, are also fighting for promotion. They are two very difficult games but I can feel a special atmosphere in the changing room and I feel like I have convinced our coach of what I can give to the team. Moreover those grounds have proper green grass!!! Jokes aside, it is true that the pitch makes a big difference.
I want to talk a bit about this Christmas, quite far away already, but before let me talk about my dearest friends Edu and Joan Oriol who are leaving Blackpool. I have said many times before that I really care for them and these last few months that we have been together, we have developed a friendship that will last for a long time. These are club affairs and one cannot really talk about it but I will really miss them and I still think they have lots of football in their boots. I can only wish them the best of luck and that they find a team in which they can show how good they are. Despite all the “problems” they have given me I still care so much for them.
To finish the article, Christmas. It is now quite far away but they were very nice days. I was looking forward to seeing my family and to spend some quiet days with them, eating and enjoying their company and being as relaxed as possible considering the training regime, and so it was. Santa was very good and there was only one present which was a bit suspicious: he had been asked to bring a “child walker” and so he did, but it came as a big car with wing mirrors, steering wheel, and funny lights and sounds. The other option a bit more feminine was a pink spotted turtle. The choice was a logical one and there were some surprised reactions. Anyway, the intention is what counts and the walker has ended up being very successful, of course!
I hope you will read my article next week with the same positive energy as this one. And since I wished you a Merry Christmas in advance a few weeks before, let me now wish you belated Happy New Year for 2015. To all of you, without exception, hugs and kisses.
Translated by Alfons Vinent.