Barcelona defender Marcos Alonso attended SPORT for an exclusive interview. The following is a recap of it. At the bottom of the page there’s a link to the original interview.
On Saturday, you were part of Gerard Pique’s last ever Camp Nou game. How do you understand feelings in football after a career marked by many clubs, including Real Madrid.
My dad was coaching and we followed him through different cities, supporting the team where he was, but obviously his team was Barca and at home we were all Barca fans.
As a Barcelonista, how was it at Real Madrid’s academy?
It was complicated at first,. After doing the trial a little reluctantly, they called me to join. My parents were laughing. In the end, it was the best for my development. I was there for many years. I grew as a person and a player. But I can’t say I didn’t.
In addition to your dad, who played for Barça, you also have a connection on your mum’s side…
My great-grandfather also played for Barça (Luis Zabala Echeverría).
Your grandad on your dad’s side, Marquitos, was a legend at Madrid.
I knew him well when I was young. I saw the respect and affection Madrid fans had for him. He was an example for me. His anecdotes and experiences helped me grow.
“Maybe I took risky decisions looking back”
Pellegrini gave you a first team debut at Madrid, why did you decide to leave?
I wanted to play and knew at Madrid it was hard. At that time, the Premier League was growing a lot and I decided to change scenery (Bolton). It was a good experience and helped me grow as a player and a person.
There were other offers, like Benfica, but you chose a smaller team in England. Have you always been clear what is the best path for you?
When you look back, maybe I took risky decisions, but with confidence and the support of my family. I don’t need much more.
Signing for Barça was a risk because you were at a great club in Chelsea and it was just a one-year deal here. What was the motivation coming here with those conditions?
If, at any moment in my career, you had asked me who I wanted to play for, I would always have said Barca, like my dad. Maybe it was a risky decision coming here, leaving my comfort zone at Chelsea, but it’s a nice project and I was attracted by the prospect of coming back to Spain after so long away before the end of my career.
A one-year deal, but are you thinking longer?
I hope so, I am really happy here. There will be time to think about that. I am focused on the pitch.
Did you suffer in the summer with the deal going to deadline day?
It was a little stressful, but the other option was staying at Chelsea, a team where I felt important. I was there for many years and it would not have been bad to stay there.
There are three left-backs at Barça. What would you highlight about Alejandro Balde?
He is a player with great quality and a lot of potential. I don’t like to compare, everyone has their own qualities.
Now you are playing as a centre-back, at Fiorentina did you play that role in a back four?
Not with a back four. It’s the first time at Barça. Due to injuries and everything, it’s what the team needed, and I always try and adapt.
Do you feel comfortable?
Yes, it’s not my natural position, but if the team needs it, I’m there.
World Cup dream
You are getting a lot of minutes at centre-back, but could that hinder your World Cup chances?
That’s a decision for Luis Enrique. In my hands is playing for my club and being in the best possible condition. I feel good, at full-back or centre-back. The important thing is to play and we will see what the coach says on Nov. 11 (when the squad is announced). I am relaxed. What will be, will be.
“I have never tried fish and chips”
Marcos Alonso returned to the Spanish league at 31. His career has progressed in England and Italy. His best moments came with Chelsea, where he won everything. However, he enjoyed the competition of the Premier League more than some habits on the British Isles. After so many years away, he was ready to come back to his homeland.
One of the curious confessions during his interview with SPORT was that “in 10 years in England I never tried fish and chips. There are many things, like the weather, I don’t miss.”