Faith Valverde (Montevideo, 7-22-1998) enters the week of his first Champions League final, a dream for the Uruguayan. And he does it as a flag of Real Madrid. For his game, for his dedication, for the way the white shirt feels. The one who was Pajarito and is now Halcn reviews his past and present in an extensive interview with the Sportsman’s Club that BRAND offers you in advance.
Ask. Do you miss coming home with a muddy face?
Response. Yes, that is the most beautiful thing a footballer can have in his life. There may be many achievements or many trophies, whether at Pearl, with the national team or with Real Madrid, but that childhood stage of playing with your friends in a team and enjoying the street together is something unique.
Q. Do you think growing up there has made you the player you are right now?
A. It can be. But much of the fault of what I am now is the fault of my parents. They were the ones who gave me the values of how to grow up, the values of a soccer field for my father, the help that my three brothers gave me and all of that together is the key to getting where I am.
Q. During your time at Pearl, you met Diego Forln, your idol, what was the best advice you gave him?
R. Very much. For me it was incredible for me that just when I went up to the first team, he came to Pearl. He was unique. Seeing him train, work, he was one of the first to arrive at the complex, one of the last to leave and Forln had already achieved many things, but it showed how great a professional he was. He tried to learn from him in every training. He has had many attitudes in favor of me and I will always have him in my head.
P. When he was 18 years old he arrived in Madrid, I suppose it was not easy at all for such a young boy to separate from his parents and make a radical change in his life.
A. It was hard. I came to Real Madrid and it was the best thing that could happen in my life, but it was also difficult because I also looked at the family side. I came to Spain without my parents who were the ones who had always been with me at all times. It was a strange feeling because I was very happy to come to this club, but at the same time sad to leave my parents and my brothers.
P. At what point is Fede Valverde right now as a player in Madrid?
R. I have to keep growing, I have to keep maturing. Today everything is important on and off the pitch. Physically, eating, mentally… I know I have to keep learning, show why I’m here and keep consolidating within the eleven. That is my goal.
P. When did you see that the League did not escape them?
R. In the Sánchez-Pizjun. That day we knew that if we didn’t win the three points, Barcelona could get much closer to us and it was a key day. As well as how the victory was given. I think that also generates a downturn in the rivals that are fighting against Real Madrid, it was a day in which we won half the League and it gave us motivation to finish what was left as quickly as possible.
P. They have won the League with five days in advance. Have you felt very superior?
A. No, not at all. I think it’s a very difficult League. At the Bernabu we can get a bit of an advantage, but as visitors the rivals become much stronger and they all want to win. It is true that we played with a great advantage throughout the tournament and obviously that gives you great peace of mind.
Q. What is it like to play alongside Modric?
A. Incredible. It is a pleasure to see him play, a pleasure to have him as a teammate, a pleasure to see everything he gives for the shield he represents. I always joke with him because I don’t know how I’m going to reach his age because today I finish many games and my whole body hurts and I think that what Luka represents is exemplary for all of us.
P. Containment midfielder, midfielder, winger, midfielder, right winger… these are the positions you have held at Real Madrid. In which one do you feel more comfortable? And don’t tell me where to put the master.
R. Surely not on the side. Everything that is in the midfield inside, whether it is six or more advanced, I like. I think that’s where I can show my qualities, my physical power, going to attack, going to defend, I think it’s something that comes to me and is natural to me, that’s where I can contribute the most to the team.
Q. Can you explain to me how Real Madrid managed to reach the Champions League final when in many moments of the qualifiers against PSG, Chelsea or City they were a foot and a half eliminated?
R. It’s difficult, obviously the first thing is to thank the people because when the game seems to be lost and you can’t find the spaces, the team isn’t feeling well, the people are always there to support us. That gives us a plus and an energy that cannot be explained. You just have to keep fighting. The match does not end until the referee says so, fight until the last.
Q. What is the secret? The DNA of Real Madrid?
A. The spirit. From the people, from the shield, from each player who enters the field to defend this club, whether winning, drawing, losing, he always tries to seek the goal of winning and that is what gives something different to the others.
P. At some point they thought: “That’s it, they’re going to eliminate us”
RS But the one that stood out the most was against City. It is very difficult for it to happen again to reach 89 minutes, that we are losing and that you blink and you are winning. These are things that will happen very rarely in life.
P. Do you feel that the rivals are afraid of Madrid?
R. Yes, yes it feels. I don’t know if fear, but I know the pressure generated by the stadium and the fans. Also the result because they know that the one in front is Real Madrid and they are capable of doing anything and it shows. When the coaching staff, the team and the fans are contagious, it is the Bermuda Triangle. It is that point that gives you to score that goal, to reach one more ball.
P. Does it bother you those who think that Real Madrid wins by luck?
R. If I tell you that there is no luck in all this, it would be lying. Luck must always be. You have to look for that luck, you have to look for that goal you want and always try it with good or bad luck. Luck was also on our side in these three Champions League games because unique things have happened.
P. You had a time when you were a fan of Liverpool), in the time of Luis Surez, for supporting the Uruguayan playing wherever he is. Do you think that now all of Uruguay will go with Real Madrid?
A. Yes, yes, surely. In Uruguay it is normal for this to happen. We can hate each other for being fans of different clubs in the same Uruguay, but later when we talk about the national team or players who play in foreign leagues, we Uruguayans always group together and try to cheer him up where the Uruguayan player is. I will have my people supporting and very grateful for it.
Q. Salah, a Liverpool player, said that they preferred Real Madrid to Manchester City in the final, do those words motivate you?
RS Obviously they are words that everyone can take as they want. I’m a rival and it’s like belittling the Real Madrid shield, the players… All we have to do is give our best, try to show why we’re in the final and hopefully we can give another trophy to the fans and to Real Madrid.
P. For you it will be your first Champions League final. How do you live it?
R. First you think that you never imagined playing an ace final. The other day I was with some friends and we were talking about the Liverpool – Milan final that I saw with my parents and today it’s my turn to play. The dream was to play for Real Madrid, but I never thought of playing in a Champions League final. With the goal of winning well in mind, if not, it’s not worth getting here.
P. Speaking of that final, Liverpool-Milan, as this Champions League has been taking place, you could exchange roles and come back 3-0 at halftime.
R. As long as he won, he would sign anything as long as he won. Be a one to zero, a two to one on the hour…
P. Some of your words from a few years ago went viral where you said “run until my legs burst”, you understand that this is the spirit of the footballer that the white club likes.
R. I was born to say it like that. It’s my way of experiencing football, of showing why I’m at Real Madrid. In addition to running I have my technical qualities, I can attack, defend, a little bit of everything. Like I said in that sentence sometimes when your legs are going to explode your heart and your head keeps fighting. You are defending the best shield in the world so you have to defend it with honor.
P. Why does Valverde seem to arrive with more physical strength in the final stretch of the games?
R. I think it is part of what I can demonstrate, of my qualities. Having a very good physique, I work to make this happen, I eat well, rest well, work my head well, I feel good in my body. It is true that as the minutes go by I feel more comfortable, with more energy and I try to make the most of it.
P. What does Fede lack to improve as a footballer? Score goals?
R. S, scoring goals is the way to help the team. My job is the dark side that sometimes is not seen as much, I would like to contribute more goals, more assists, reach the area more, more determination, but I am still young, every day you learn something new.
There are nights when the Bernabu is the Bermuda Triangle for the rival
Q. You have a room at home where you have everything ready to play the Play. Is it an escape route with so much pressure that footballers have?
A. Yes, I usually do it at night when my son is already sleeping and I enjoyed the day with my family. Sometimes I take advantage when my wife is asleep or I run away so I don’t watch anything with her [risas]. No, lie. It’s my time, there are times when between trips you arrive tired and that’s the way to stay connected with your friends, keep sharing a few laughs and make you forget about football, get away from stress and nerves a bit. It is the way to disconnect a little.
P. Do you play soccer with your son Benicio despite being very small, as he grows up will you let him win one day?
R. No, whoever has to win wins. If he wins, he’s welcome, but I’m going to try to win. I think that this is also how the winners are polished. You always have to go for the goal, which is to win, and I like to win at anything. We are not going to kill each other with my son either, but if he plays to win I too.
What Salah said motivates, it is like a contempt for the Madrid shield
P. How is Fede Valverde in defeats? Is it hard for you to digest that he loses a game? Do the anger last a long time?
R. I have learned a lot on this topic. Before I suffered a lot, for me losing was the worst thing that could happen to me in my life. Sometimes when I lost I put aside everyday things like chatting with my wife or sharing a laugh with my son, just because of a defeat. There are times when defeats have to serve as learning, everything happens for a reason. It cost me to reverse all that. Today when I lose I suffer, but I also take it differently. I have improved a lot but I also have a lot to improve in this aspect.
Q. What makes a barbecue so special for a Uruguayan?
A. Everything. The moment of sharing as a family with friends, seeing my son stealing meat or chorizo to eat is very funny. I’m not the one who cooks the barbecue, I’m the one who enjoys eating, but it’s always special to be with your loved ones.
Q. The World Cup in Qatar is just around the corner. How far will the Uruguayan team go?
R. For me it is a beautiful revenge. I played many times with my country, but a World Cup is something unique and obviously we are going to go for the trophy, if I told you otherwise I would be lying. And on a personal level I want to give my best, put my team on my shoulder, because I feel capable of giving my best so I have to go for everything.
We wish to thank the writer of this article for this amazing material
Fede Valverde: “It’s not worth reaching the final if you don’t win it”