A comprehensive interview with the Daily Mail

A short while ago, coinciding with my birthday, the Daily Mail published an extensive interview in which we went over my career as a footballer and a manager. It can be read in full here. Below, I share a few things from the interview. I hope you like it.

Nayim’s goal in the European Cup Winners’ Cup

I was 10 yards away when he hit it. I thought, “What is that?” because there was nobody ahead of him. Everyone just went silent, just watching the ball and David Seaman. 

It was probably the worst-celebrated goal in football. To be honest, everyone went everywhere. After the match I cried like a baby because of the emotion, but I also had cramp in my calf. When I tried to run, it seized up and someone had to pull my foot up to stretch it.

The jump to English football

I was 29 when I first came to England from Real Zaragoza. It turned out to be a life-changing decision, and the right one.

Spain was comfortable, but England was a challenge I wanted. To experience playing with guys like Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Di Matteo, Gianluca Vialli and Dennis Wise….

My team-mate Nayim, helped me make my mind up. He had played for Spurs and explained everything about English football and living in London. And here we still are!

The year I signed for Chelsea I did my ligaments in October and people said I’d miss the whole season. I bought a bike for my house and Terry Byrne (masseur) became my personal recovery assistant and my English teacher. I got back in time for the Cup Winners’ Cup final that we won. It meant so much personally.

The miracle of staying up with Sunderland

You have to consider it the greatest escape and I have to give credit to our substitute goalkeeper, Oscar Ustari. The first game we had left in search of safety was against Manchester City on 16 April. We led until the 88th minute when Nasri equalised. Oscar was worried I’d be upset because we were so close to winning. Before we went into the dressing-room he said: “Gaffer, the players were unbelievable, praise them, they deserve plenty of credit”.

It was a turning point. We went to Chelsea next and won, it was José Mourinho’s first home defeat in the Premier League after 77 matches. Then we beat United at Old Trafford. We ended up finishing 14th.

Experience managing around the world

Football in China isn’t easy, but it was one of my best experiences as a person. They are very superstitious. The number eight is lucky, the colour red is lucky, the number four is unlucky…. I was once about to walk through a door marked number four into an airport when my staff started shouting: “Don’t go through, go to entrance three or five!”.

I went to Betis (in 2016) without doing my homework, because I regarded them as how the club used to when I was a player, rather than the situation I was walking into.

The role of Cavani at Manchester United

I think he is going to be more important for Manchester United than people think. Just look at the last game at Everton. The result was in the balance. He came off the bench, one chance and bang. The fitter he gets, the more he will understand United’s play, the more he will play.

English football is perfect for Uruguayans because we are passionate. Once we sign a contract, we forget about it because the only thing that matters next is winning. English fans love that.