You’ve seen them on the pitch playing for Ottawa. We’ve cheered them on together in the stands. We want you to know what they’re about. Where they’re from, where they’ve been. What shapes them as a player. As a person. Everyone has a story and we want to tell theirs. I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with the players and ask them about how they got here and I’m excited to share their stories with you. This series will continue through the Fall Season. –Kendra Lee
Tell me about where you grew up.
I grew up in Alicante, Spain, my city is where I started to play soccer. When I was three years old I started to play with my neighbours. We are like 100 houses that we have a community field with tennis, a garden, so here I started to play with my friends. And after, when I was 6 years old, I started to play in my first team. It was the team of my neighbourhood. Some of my best friends started playing with me when I was 6 years old and now we continue to be friends. After that, I spent 5 years in this team, and I think in Alicante that it was the 1st or the 2nd best team in the city. I played here until I played under 15. I played with the National Team, the Spanish National Team Under 15. I was one of a few players in the history from Alicante to have played with Spain’s National Team. So for the city and for the club it was a very big thing. But after that, the next season I signed with Villareal. It’s one of the best teams in Spain.
How did you get to Villarreal?
When I went to the National Team under 15, I played in Alicante. Alicante was a team in the 3rd division so when I went to the National Team, all the players were from Barcelona, Madrid, you know, not a lot of players come from a team from the 3rd division. I think I went to the National Team because I played with the regional team and I played with guys who were older than me. I was the youngest along with another player from Valencia CF. After that I went to the National Team so, many teams in the 1st division called me but I decided to go to Villarreal. In this moment there was many younger players playing for the first squad, it was the team most interested in me, it was close to my house, only 2 hours 30 minutes, so yeah.
So did you stay in Alicante?
No, I moved. I lived in a residence with, in the first year, 50 other younger players. The second year, they built another floor, so the second year we were almost 100 young players between 13 years old and 20, 21. It was amazing! There are good moments but there are other moments when you want to rest and maybe at 10:00 pm you can’t because people are screaming in the hallway. But it was good. For studying, I had to study normally at 11 at night because before then it was impossible because of all the noise!
You developed at Villarreal, how many years were you there?
Yes, at Villarreal 5 years… I started playing in under 17. The next year in under 19, where I was the youngest player. I went to the national team under 17, I played in the Euro Cup where we were 3rd and I made my debut with Villarreal B team when I was 17 years old. I was the youngest player in the team. But after that I had one big injury and I continued to play in Villarreal. But there arrived one moment when I was 19 years old, I continued to play as same level as two seasons before for the third and sometimes with the second team. I didn´t go up. So in this moment I decided to go to another team and I signed for Mallorca’s second team, the reserve team. It was a good option because Mallorca is a good team and a good city. I was 20 years old. I spent 2 years here with the reserve team. I trained with the first squad so many times and I think this is one of the best experiences, training every day with the first squad of the first division where there are very great players. In my second year in Mallorca I was the captain of the second team.
What did you learn about leading a team from that experience?
I would say it’s hard because in a team there are so many different personalities so you can’t speak in the same way with one player and another player. It’s hard. When you have a good result it’s always more easy. You can say anything and all the people are happy but when the results are not good and these moments are not good some people tried to say “No, it’s the mistake of this player or the other”. It was hard for me. It was a good experience to grow as a soccer player and as a person. To try to deal with all of these personalities and young players with very good skills and talent
And during this time, you got your law degree. How did you have time to study?
We trained in the morning. Normally in Spain on Wednesday you train two times, in the morning and the afternoon. But the rest of the days I have all of the afternoon free. So my teammates maybe stayed a home and played FIFA and PlayStation but me I spent my afternoon, I went to the university and I studied. After the game or when I have a day off I have time to go out with my teammates, with my girlfriend, but the rest of the days, in the morning I trained and in the afternoon I studied university. During the travels I always bring with me my books. Because in Spain when I was at Mallorca all the travel was by plane and after you have one day in the hotel you don’t do anything so you can study.
After Mallorca you moved around a bit to three different teams in Spain.
Yes. First I signed with Albacete. It was a team in the second division, who was relegated to segunda division b. It was one of the biggest teams in segunda b. I signed in early August so it was a little late. After, it wasn’t the best decision but in this moment, “why not.” I was one of the youngest players in this team and there wasn’t an opportunity to play. So it was hard, it wasn’t a good year. But I learned. I learned from the difficulties. And after that I have a very hard summer because in one year you have a good offer and so many good opportunities and then you have pretty small opportunities, or all the offers you have are not as before and it’s hard to accept to go to some teams. So you wait, you wait, I waited a lot and…in the end I decided to sign in a team in my city in the third division, Jove Espanol with a clause to be free when I wanted at any moment and in the transfer window in the winter I received an offer from a team in the second level where I knew the coach. The coach wanted to play possession in the team and the field was a grass field so good conditions to play and I signed in this team for the last part of the season. I played during all the end of the season.
And after that you went to Norway, right?
Yes, after that I went to Norway., I had an offer from Norway for two months. My agent at this moment told me, “Maybe you can have an option after to go to North America” I was looking forward to training to go to North America. So, I spent two months in Norway.
What was Norway like?
In Norway hockey and soccer are the biggest sports. There are not too many people in Norway so it’s not the same sport as in Spain. The winter is difficult for the weather. It was a big change between Spain and Norway. I went to a small team, but all the people were very friendly, I liked the city, a beautiful city. It was only for two months and the conditions were very good for two months. So I said, “OK, my first experience abroad, only two months, Norway, a good city” It was very good.
How many fans came out to support the team?
In Norway, it was a small team so only around 1, 500 not a lot. The biggest team is in first division, maybe they have 10, 000. It depends on the team. The biggest city is Oslo, it has 400,000 people only. The whole population of Norway is the same as Madrid!
What influenced your decision to come to Canada and play for the Fury?
I was following the MLS and NASL last year because I think both leagues are growing a lot and I always wanted to come to North America, the States or Canada, to live, I want to have this experience. So when I had the opportunity to come here to Canada I didn’t think a lot because after Marc had shown me the program, it was a very important project, the stadium was great, they want a team oriented in possession play, and I think all of these things…I didn’t have to think too much!
What differences do you notice between North American and European style soccer?
You live the football in a different way. Here, when we loose a game the supporters are amazing! They continue to support you, follow you. In Europe, it’s true they continue to follow you, but if you have 2 or 3 not good games, after it’s hard to go out for dinner. Maybe it’s because in Europe if you are one of the last teams in the league you are relegated, so that means that the next year you have to play in the second division or in third division, so for a supporter it’s very hard to show your team that you enjoy every week in a lower division. And here maybe because there is not relegation, it’s different. I think this is one of the biggest differences between European and North American football.
Where do you see the team going from here?
I think only this team can go up in the future. The club is doing things very well, it’s growing. From here to the future, it’s only going up. And I hope in the end of the season we are going to have a good result.