There are only a few footballers who have documented their experiences in a book, and Oriol Romeu is one of them. FC Barcelona’s newest signing published “La temporada de mi vida” (The Season of My Life) in December 2021. In this diary-style book, the Ulldecona-born midfielder reveals his personal life during the 2020-21 season, baring his soul through football and showcasing the human side of a footballer.
Reading the book now, almost three years later, it gains even more significance, especially in regards to Xavi Hernández, his current coach, to whom Romeu dedicates an entire chapter. He talks about his first training session with the Barça first team, where he found himself in the midst of a rondo, surrounded by Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets. He describes this experience as both exhilarating and slightly frustrating. However, it was what happened after that training session that left a lasting impact on Romeu.
Xavi, one of Romeu’s idols, approached him in the locker room and began stretching by his side. It was a moment that changed everything for the young midfielder. “He had always been one of my idols, but that day, when I got to know him as a person, he became an even more significant role model,” said Romeu.
As time went on, Romeu, known for his constant self-improvement and self-critique, noticed moments during matches where he would relax excessively, leading to potentially dangerous ball losses. He sought a reference point, a player who remained active and made perfect decisions throughout the 90 minutes. He found his inspiration in his current coach, Xavi.
Bold move by Romeu
Instead of watching videos, Romeu took a bold step and sent Xavi a message. He had the coach’s number since Xavi had written to him during the summer, expressing interest in including him in Al-Sadd Qatar. In the extensive message, Romeu shared, “I’ve been searching for a player who embodies perfect activation and concentration during matches, and I thought of you. How did you do it? Did you have any rituals?” He concluded with, “If you’re busy and can’t respond, no worries at all.”
The response from Xavi arrived the next day due to the time difference, and it left Romeu in awe. “I now have the highlight of the month, or even the year! A message from Xavi, discussing football, directed to me. Wow!” he wrote in his book, where he also revealed Xavi’s kind and insightful reply. The former Barça midfielder shared his approach to the game, which involved a deep sense of responsibility and an almost obsessive perfectionism. He would treat every ball as if it were the last and set personal challenges for himself during training sessions. Xavi’s relentless pursuit of excellence inspired Romeu.
Beyond his admiration for Xavi, Romeu also shares in his book how he looks up to other football legends like Iniesta, Pirlo, Zidane, Busquets, and Xabi Alonso. He believes learning from successful players can improve his own skills and technique.
Romeu’s special character
Outside of football, Romeu’s book also reveals personal insights about his life. He decided to distance himself from social media due to its toxic environment and instead dedicates time to reading, devouring two books per month if possible. He has a passion for languages and is fluent in Catalan and Spanish, proficient in English and German, and has studied French and Japanese. In fact, he and his partner have future plans to live in Japan for a few years.
Emotionally, Romeu treasures the memories of playing football in the hallway with his paternal grandfather, Jaume, and the valuable advice he received from his maternal grandfather, Pedro Vidal Solà, affectionately known as Ieié. Ieié was instrumental in igniting Romeu’s passion for football and instilling several valuable principles in him. These principles include not wasting time arguing with the referee, taking five deep breaths before taking a penalty, and staying away from disputes on the field. Additionally, Ieié always offered honest feedback after matches, and Romeu always sought the truth, no matter how challenging it might be.
In the end, Oriol Romeu’s journey has come full circle, leading him back to FC Barcelona, where the guidance and inspiration from none other than Xavi himself have made a significant impact on his growth as a footballer and as a person. The influence of great players and personal mentors like Xavi and his beloved grandparents continues to shape his remarkable journey on and off the pitch.