Date Finished: September 2018
Did I Like It? 8/10
Pepe! He’s the guy everyone wants to have in their team. He is a ball (pun intended) of fun, always looking for the positive spin on things. He’s grateful for everything that has happened in his career right the way through the highs and lows.He knew he had the talent, but also believes he was one of the lucky ones to get to the top (in addition to hard work). Behind the smiley, happy go lucky face is a unique mind that we can all learn and celebrate from. I love his chat about crowd influences too.
What I Highlighted:
I know that I owe them for the backing that they give to us. We are their passion, their hope and at times we can give them something positive to enjoy, even when they might have problems in their lives or times are tough.
All of these things create a pressure but for me this is good because it means that I have a nervous energy which makes me even more determined to play well.
In order to help the team I first had to deal with the problems of my own and eliminate the mistakes that were blighting my form and damaging my confidence.
No matter what I had done for Liverpool, I felt that they had done more for me and so when the time came for me to show my commitment to them I did so, even though I had my doubts.
My loyalty was there, but I needed someone or something to show me that we still had a positive future.
When people say that you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper this is what they mean –you can make a thousand brilliant saves in your career but if you concede a goal in the wrong game, or to the wrong player, then that is what you will be remembered for.
It is only natural that you will be disappointed when you make a mistake. But you cannot allow the negativity to consume you, just as you cannot get too excited when you have had a special game or pulled off a great save. They are just two sides of the same coin and sometimes the coin goes for you and on other occasions it goes against you.
So while it was an influence on me trying to become a goalkeeper, the most important thing, as is the case for all young players, is that I liked being one and believed I could do it well.
Zubizarreta was my idol, the person I wanted to emulate, and I wanted to take in every single thing he did, no matter how small, and then try to use it to my advantage. If you are going to learn you may as well learn from the best.
We have to understand that the children have a tremendous passion for football…We all have to realise that we are lucky to be in the position that we are in.
We may have come from all over Spain and we may have also been fighting for our own futures, but the shared experience brought us all together.
Talent, hard work and mentality are all important, everyone knows that, but so is luck.
When people talk about team spirit this is how it happens. There is no magic formula and no one can make it occur. It happens when people share bad times and good times, highs and lows and at La Masia the spirit between us kids was as strong as anyone could ever imagine. For me, that is what makes it special. It undoubtedly helped make me the person that I am. Barcelona gave me that through these experiences and the principles that they instilled in me. It is a philosophy, a way of life, and it is one that is easier to follow when everyone is in it together.
The most important thing of all is how you develop as a person and being at Barcelona as a teenager was crucial to what I have become. There is no need for me to be envious of anyone else.
We have our own strengths which are unique for us, but if we can take the best practices from clubs like Barcelona and weave them into our own strategy then that can only be positive.
Everything that I did to achieve that dream, every sacrifice I made, every effort I put in, every night I had to stay in and every minute I spent away from my family was worth it in the end.
I suffered for my art, too, picking up injuries all the time from diving on the pavement to stop shots from becoming goals.
That is what rivalry is all about. There is a time to be friends and there is a time to fight for the honour of our clubs. None of us would have it any other way.
I know, as someone who was once an opponent, what an effect the Anfield crowd can have on you. I also know that it is up to us as players to inspire the crowd and turn them into the beast that they were on my first visit there.
One of the lessons we were always being taught at La Masia was that we always had to be prepared because in football you can never tell when circumstances can change and you can find yourself thrust into the limelight in the blink of an eye.
If you look at any place, anywhere in the world, you can find reasons why it might be better to go somewhere else.
When you are a member of the elite you have to act like one and this means competing for the biggest prizes.
There are times when things go wrong on the pitch that you are still able to take something positive from the game. This was one of those occasions. It showed me that if we gave everything for Liverpool then the supporters would always be with us.
It was a tactic and the key to any tactic is using it at the right time and in the right way.
You have to examine how the best players in your position do their job and pick up little lessons because this is one of the best ways of improving.
Because he played in the same position as me I could not help but admire Grobbelaar’s achievement and it made me want to get my own place in the museum, to show I had done something important for Liverpool. It was only early days but already I had a personal ambition.
But when the game is in the bag you have to keep on being professional and see the game out because it gets you into a good routine and gives you the kind of good habits that are really important when the games are tighter and there is more at stake.
I consider myself to be a winner and I also have hot blood, Latin blood. This means there will be times when I can explode because I am not happy about something we have failed to do as a team, but I leave my anger on the pitch. We are all passionate and we are all desperate to win so it is totally natural that there will be occasions when our emotions boil over and we take it out on one another.
It is easier to recall the mistakes than the great saves. In my opinion, great saves are usually –but not always –the ones that matter the most.
You have good moments and everything is great, but suddenly you can drop a couple of points and you hit the ground with a bump. The key then is how you respond and I knew that I had to put the break-in out of my mind, just like a bad result.
If you go into a final thinking that you are going to lose then what the hell are you doing there?
Because I was so wrapped up in the moment and so focused on winning the game I didn’t stop to take in the enormity of the situation.
If you look at any team that gets to a final there is usually a turning point on the way.
From the minute I get out of bed to the minute I go to sleep at the end of the day I try to be positive with myself and everyone around me.
But I still do it because I would rather be accused of being too happy than being someone who walks around with a long face all the time. That’s the way I have always been and it’s the way I will be all my life. What’s the point in being miserable? I have nothing to be angry with the world about.
If anything, it created a dark humour amongst us with every victory being followed by jokes from the players about doing what Spain always do and getting knocked out in the next round, just when things are looking good….If we had taken it more seriously than that then maybe the pressure of carrying a nation’s hopes would have got to us more and it could even have affected us on the pitch.
We were expecting to win and nothing was going to change our minds about that.
I love being in the dressing room and the only place where I am happier is on the pitch. My passion for playing is born of my love for football. I am desperate to do well in every single game I play and I want to enjoy every single moment so when the team does something positive I show my emotion.
Life is for the living and mistakes are part and parcel of it, especially when you are young.
In every season you have a spell when you are not at your best and you are struggling to find your form. The key is to find a way to keep on winning during these periods.
The team spirit that we had at the time was crucial to this because it is impossible to keep on winning games after being behind unless you are all in it together. Once or twice, maybe, but to keep on doing it over and over again proves that there was a lot more to it than just a lucky comeback.
People complain because they will score a goal in the last minute of a game or a tap-in but that is because they have been hammering away looking for a winner and in the end their opponents just have to submit because it is so relentless.
We learned more from losing that one game than we did from any of our victories before then. It served us well.
We try to play football as it should be played and possession is so important to us, even if there are times when you just have to play percentages and deal with a situation the way it is, not the way you might want it to be.
I suppose this was the best way of answering their aggression, by refusing to give in to it.
We all think that we are the best and that is the way it has to be.
You could have a keeper who is one of the best in the world but if he does not play too often then it is going to be difficult for him to show how good he is.
I believed that what was happening was wrong so I could not just sit there and say nothing, particularly when the owners were doing so much damage to the club.
We all did what we thought was right, that is all anyone can ever do.
Of course I am Spanish, but that is only part of what I am. I try to be a positive person in whatever environment I am in.
He always had so much confidence in us as well. He would go to unbelievable lengths to prepare us for games and this meant we were all clear about exactly what we needed to do once we got out onto the pitch.
Players come and players go but the club will always remain.
The lack of form and crisis in confidence swept through the dressing room like a plague and it affected all of us in one way or another.
But we all have happiness and sadness, good days and bad days and often you only ever share that with your family.
Sooner or later he will be up there with the greats of the game but how quick he gets there will depend on the team because he cannot do it on his own. The better we do as a group, the better he will do as an individual.
When the manager likes you everything is fine, but if the manager doesn’t obviously there are going to be periods when you have rough times with him.
You can only judge people as you find them, not on where they come from.
It isn’t just about watching videos and being told what to do, it is about the relationship you have with a coach. That is what makes the difference.
No matter what has happened, I am always the last one to leave the changing rooms after a match.