This is adorable!
01/02/2013 Esteban Granero training with Jermaine Jenas
Esteban Granero asked by Cat
‘It’s important that the life of a footballer does not last long.’
Esteban Granero, the pirate, is an atypical footballer: an avid reader and amateur writer, he confesses that his aim in life is not to be the best player in the world, but to make his family happy with his game, especially his mother. Although football is his life, he is not afraid to age or that an injury may stop him from playing: he plans for the future. Raised in the ranks of Real Madrid, he played for Getafe before playing in the first team in the time of Pellegrini. With Mourinho, he decided to move to the Premier League, to London, signing for Queens Park Rangers, where he currently plays. Taking advantage of the camp in a hotel in Newcastle, Diario Kafka had the following conversation with him via Skype.
How does it feel to have a professional expiry date?
In football, when you get to 32, 33, 34, there are a lot of prejudices when being hired. Many people are unaware that although football is a sport, there are also things that improve with age, such as experience, ability to read the game, tactical knowledge, even resistance.There is a prejudice in football, as a sport, that the older you get, the worse you are.True, but it’s not as radical as in other sports, such as athletics and cycling. Moreover, it is important that the life of a footballer does not last long because when you are in the elite of the sport, it is hard psychologically. For many players, retirement is almost a relief. Right now I’m not tired of playing, and I don’t think I will get tired, but it really is a tough sport psychologically.
But do you not live with anguish and certainty that in five, ten years, much less in some cases, that your career is over? Do you have to learn to live with that?
Many players see it that way. Therefore, the main goal of your career is to get good contracts and amass money. In my case, it is for different reasons. Firstly because I’ve never seen football as work and I just began it. It has been my passion since childhood and the day I stop playing professionally, I will continue playing football with friends or as more. It’s like a writer being told that after forty, his books will stop being published. But it would not force you to stop writing, nobody is going to remove the computer or your ideas to stop you writing. If you do not see it as a job or if you have something more than football, it is natural and normal. In my case, I will try to make the best career, my main goal is not to earn lots of money, but enjoy the game and above all, the opportunity that football takes me many places. I’m lucky that I’m a major player, in quotes; who has played in big teams, and in good line-ups. That makes you able to choose your destinations and to be able to allow football to take you to different countries, different cultures, and it is a joy.
Is obsolescence a peculiarity of football or is it inherent in all sports?
It’s more radical in other sports. The gymnasts; rhythmic gymnastics or artistic, these girls, at 20, have to stop and are not even aware of what they are doing. Now that’s radical, because you dedicate your whole life to get to that, and you have to leave at age 22 with virtually nothing. There are also sports that do not generate much income, so you have to start your life again from scratch, you have dedicated your life to a thankless sport. And in that case, obsolescence is much more radical and cruel.
In football, there are two axis that rival the play we see on the pitch. One is the stage where you do business, and is influence peddling, and the other is the press room, where many coaches seem to have played a different game as we’ve all seen. Are you aware of the reality of football?
Fortunately or unfortunately, football is a sport and the media extremely exposes players and clubs to inordinate attention. The players have to be thankful because it is what makes us able to live, but it is true that we have a strong focus. Given what football is like, the stands seem like a good place to do business. Then the media control football, the statements of the players, the coaches, the managers themselves… Well, this is a circus, in which some move better than others. Today the press creates an extreme point of view, but more so in football. People believe what they read in Marca or AS is the truth, but you would be surprised at the number of times you read it and it has nothing to do with reality. Even good, well feathered, journalists, writing for serious media, write and create things totally invented by opinion, based on falsehoods. In this world, we have to develop as we can. The coaches, alike. That game must be played and you have to play the best you know how. If you an play, if you have the conditions for it, you can take advantage. If you do not, it’s best to be as quietly a you can and try to survive it.
Football is a culture?
For me, football has a lot of culture. It has many values. A kid who wants to be a writer and a guy who wants to be a football player actually take parallel paths, what happens is the the subject matter is different. And then football, by being something more attractive, creates its own culture. There are scholars of football, you have people that live solely from being in the footballing cult, to learn the history.
Does it seem relevant to distinguish between culture and entertainment, which would include football?
We are giving entertainment a very derogatory nature. Some people are entertained by going to Museo del Prado. Why can’t entertainment also be writing poems at home? That is also entertainment. Entertainment through culture, or even culture through entertainment. That to me should not be separated. Obviously if we want to call the disconnect of the brain entertainment, like Sálvame on TV, if that’s entertaining, it must obviously be separated, but only if you mean it in a derogatory tone.
Valdano, Guardiola, Pellegrini, Bielsa belong to the school that takes a very different approach to the football of Mourinho or Javier Clemente. Beyond the differences in style, do you think there are ideological conflicts? Would you say that there is a left of football and another right? A conservative football and a progressive football?
Absolutely. I am a fan of Bielsa or Pellegrini, whom I have been fortunate to have as a coach. They are radically opposed to another type of coach. And that opposition is quite similar to an opposition which may have political ideologies. I’m not saying that some are on the left and others are right wing, no, but the contrast is very similar to political opposition. And the good thing about football is that using the two methods, people have triumphed in the end and that is a good coach, success. And Guardiola has succeeded to be the polar opposite of Mourinho, and Mourinho has also succeeded to the be polar opposite of Guardiola. This means that there are many ways to achieve excellence, and excellence in football translates to winning trophies in the right way or otherwise.
Were you always sure of the capital gains of this?
I was always confident that there was no point to this. However, I had an older brother that was sure. I think if I had not had him, I would not have gone anywhere. But I think if I had not thought as I did, I would not have gone anywhere. First, because I’m not a natural, boundless, who was born with a gift for football. I’m a regular guy who has trained. I have some talent, but I just trained more than my teammates, that’s for sure. Because if not, they would have succeeded and not me. But during my process, I have always been surprised by the steps forward I have taken. When I got to the second team of Real Madrid, it was a surprise for me. I said: Look, all the training has paid off. Then I went to Getafe and played in the first division and said: well, look, mission accomplished. I never thought I could get to the first division. After I returned to Real Madrid and still did not believe it, and I played 40 games in a year and I do not know how many goals went in. And everything has been amazing.
You were a kid who collected stickers, ie. were a reader of the epic, of epic soccer. What impression is produced when you look back to that child who read epics now that you’re the character? How does it feel to see you in the cards, in video games?
What the cards and video games give are the biggest pats from the profession which say: Hey, look where you are. And say what am I doing here. I have always passed them. The footballer, by definition, has a pretty big ego, is a guy thrown forwards, is a guy with a lot of confidence, a shark. I’m very little of the prototype player in that sense, because I’m pretty introverted, quite uncertain. I have always had this happen when I asked myself what have I done to be here. Surely you have done more than others because it has cost me more than others, but I’ve always felt that way.
Football at the end of the day is kicking a ball. Do you run the risk of believing, being inside it, that the most important thing in the world is football?
For me it is one of the most important things, but as a passion, it’s not going anywhere, but because it makes me happy. I never aspired to be the best in the world. I aspired to be better than my friends, or to be the best at training, but as a way to improve myself, not as a way to put myself about anyone. My fight is another. I know that if I come home after playing well in a match, my mother is almost crying with joy. And if I return after a bad game, my mother is sad because she knows I’m sad. That is the engine that moves me.
There is a front line of chess players, or hammer throwers, living with hardships, due to scholarships and without making two thousand Euros a month, but give their lives to that. Would that be your case with football if it did not pay?
Yes, absolutely. I always compare football to rugby, because they are very similar sports. Rugby players do not earn a lot and yet come out to play, break their legs, be injured, they’re hit… It seems impossible to have people able to do that only by passion for a sport. You see the relationship with rugby players between them, even with the other team, the referee… and that’s admirable. it is a much purer sport, much more human. In football it doesn’t happen, in football it’s all very thuggish [macarra]. And maybe rugby is because money is not involved. I like to play chess, and if I was raised from childhood playing chess, I would be happy playing chess. And I would have fought to be a good chess player. Sport means you enter a race to improve yourself and be better every day. But all sports, they offer that race, and you choose which one you want to practice a little more. And once you’re inside, the money is almost immaterial. I have given up better contracts many times. I would pay for free. Without a penny. I would play with the same intensity, with the same joy and the same pleasure.
Has the exorbitant signing money spoiled what the game meant to you before or is it just a part of the evolution?
It has made football what is it and that we can devote ourselves to that. If not, the game would be another sport and other sports would take the place of football, because people need it. And people need something when money is involved there. In a way it has spoiled it, like what I said before: when money enters, other things are lost, many values, a lot of camaraderie. And I personally look at rugby with envy, to the way they live.
Is there any excitement on the field comparable to what you felt when you scored your first goal for the first team of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu?
Not for me. Or at least I have not discovered it yet. It’s that of a strong and deep childhood dream. It’s what you’ve dreamed of since small. And only once met. A childhood dream is impossible to fulfill. That is why it’s a dream. And so we dream as children. Because we have no measure. And if you are lucky enough to achieve it, then that is unmatched.
Football players do not have a reputation for being highly educated or readers. Are you a geek in this world or are there colleagues with cultural concern, readers…?
There is everything. There are some players who like to read a little or those who enjoy it. What happens is that the players are very stereotyped in that sense, although I have to say that because we are very exposed to the media and because our ignorance is a focus of many flashes in the face. I have my hobbies, as each has their own, and I think, more or less, than anyone else, I read instead of catching a game or devoting my time to buy jewellery, I do not know… To me what I find wrong is that a player or whoever who does not take a book is called uneducated. But if you like to read, then read. And there are many footballers who read, eh, not many, but there are more than people think.
Why do you read?
I read from an early age because what I read changed my life. People like Holden Caulfield [the protagonist in Catcher in the Rye] were my heroes, I wanted to be like them, act how they did. What you read when young is what marks you. The characters in novels, they were my heroes, they acted how I wanted behave and they also read a lot. I was very eager to read. And that, at first, I read almost by obligation, but holy obligation. my brother, who is also a very good reader, said you have to read. And to me, it was very boring. I was very restless and to sit on a couch to read seemed very boring, but I forced myself to read half an hour every day. And within two weeks, I had to take the book to training. I spent so much time playing football and reading. I have to leave home with a book if I have to wait in the car or if I have to wait in line, or I have to wait for someone who might be delayed, I have it there. And the day that I read a little, even two little stories, I feel bad, but just like on the day I do not play football, I feel bad. The day that I am not training, I have a rough day, I’m tired, I’m in a bad mood.
What are you reading now?
Well, I’m alternating Twain stories with Poe with Chejov. The stories are very easy to switch. I read a book calledChanges, a Chinese Nobel Prize, which is his biography, a tiny little novel. And I just readThe Carpenter’s Pencil, Manuel Rivas, which I found to be a beautiful book.
Why did you enroll in a school of creative writing?
I always liked to write. As a child, I wrote play. I had a notebook and wrote: “Butragueño passes to who I don’t know, this play with Martín Vázquez…” I have a passion for writing. When I started reading comics, I started writing comics. And my school teachers have always encouraged me to write, to investigate that… Enrolling in a school of writing was a way to improve myself. I am very insecure and I am very shy, but I knew that if I aimed for one of these things, it would force me to exercise it and luckily, I enrolled. I saw an ad in the paper and I signed up. It was a very good experience. They treated me great. It’s a beautiful place. I had a great year.
Do you admire some sportswriters, not for their analysis of the game, but his prose?
There are many. There are also many that are very bad, horrible. There are many who are well feathered, devoted exclusively to the sport. And truly a pleasure to read. Normally not in the best selling sports newspaper, but elsewhere, in separate sites or independent magazines or cultural newspapers. There is a journalist who always put in the labour, but he wrote very well. I will not say who it is so as not to advertise. We always put in the labour, but she had a nice way of writing.
What more do you want to be, Esteban?
Well, today, I wondered this with a teammate on the bus. I am now in Newcastle, because we have a match here tomorrow. And we were on the bus and a colleague asked me: what do you want to be? Sometimes I think a far cry from football and other times I think why if it’s something I like and I know well. And then you have passions in: reading, writing, and I think I can maybe get around. Another passion I have is education. Then maybe life will take me there. I have passion, in the end it’s life that gets you where you need to be… Maybe together, football and education… You can take Madrid’s youth teams, which is something I would like…
The other possibility is to become a premature grandfather, given how quickly you can become obsolete, telling time and time again, the old glories…
The fact is, that one can live when they leave the football life, causes many to look for comfort, in quotes, that is: “Football has filled my life and from now I’ll live.” But what is life? Living is not doing nothing. On the contrary, to live is everything. Everything else. Harnessing not having to go to training every day or no longer having to concentrate on matches, to be free to find yourself and do what you want. The problem is what you try to find once you’ve finished playing football because you have to be active while you are dedicated to playing. So it’s difficult, because you are very lost. But I think I’ll be able to find my way once I finish my career. In fact, if I left the game right now, I would have no problem devoting to a lot of things. If tomorrow, I hope not, I broke my knee and could not play again, I would be very sad because I love football, but not because I was bored and because I had nothing to do.
Haha, what a picture I just found. Season 97-98 in Lisbon, with the gato de Mejorada
OMG MY BABY PIRATA MOVE YOUR ASS COME BACK HOME!
Iker watching Estebans club :’)
#LondonTeam #BigBen (cutropia)
I don’t know who they are but Granero is out and looking happy, all is well
“For the rain it raineth every day,” He said
Omg, he posted a pic of himself :D
with some fans :)
Phi summer with #ray