rain in Vila–Real, Foyth arrives after training with a sleepy face: “I didn’t sleep at all, we finished yesterday afternoon and I stayed here because the training was early“. He doesn’t pout, the talk flows normally, he feels comfortable and then poses to Angelthe photojournalist.
How is Juan Foyth? How do you feel and how do you feel as a group?
Well well. Everything’s fine. Well, well, we are going through a nice moment of the season and in LaLiga we had to win the last two games, which was what we had been looking for, against Getafe we won as a visitor after a long time. That is our main objective, LaLiga, we get closer to the first four, we know that it is difficult and that we miss many opportunities, but now we go game by game in LaLiga and try to get as many points as possible. In the Champions League it is a historic season that we are experiencing thanks to all the commitment of the team and the respect we face in the competition, we want to enjoy the Liverpool game.
He made his young debut in Estudiantes with Nelson Vivas and was sold after only a few games. What was it like living through that process so quickly? Did you meet Vivas again in a match against Atlético?
Yes, I ran into him the times we played against Atlético de Madrid, once I was able to greet him in the tunnel and we had a few laughs, then maybe we couldn’t talk much or greet each other after the games because of how they went but I will always be grateful for the confidence he gave me, for how he made us train, I was 19 years old and I went out on the court knowing that many things were going to happen, I was very prepared thanks to the training and how he handled everything. This process of leaving the club was not an attempt, if I had to stay it would not be a slump or anything like that, it was my dream to play in Estudiantes, I had options to leave before debuting and I spoke with the club, I asked not to , that I wanted to debut and play in Estudiantes. I knew that the club needed the money to be able to finish the stadium but it was something that helped us both, it was an important step for me and a lot of money for the club and that’s why we went forward, but I lived it very calmly too, thanks to all the people around me.
How was the change from Estudiantes to the Premier? How did you experience the first weeks of training?
The first year was rough, I wasn’t 100% prepared, I had played nine games in the First Division. The first day I arrived I was training with Kane and Son and I thought that the week before I was playing the Play with Tottenham and today I was training with them. Then you acclimatize to the locker room and you realize that they are teammates and that you have to compete, the second year I was able to play a little more in the Premier, in the Champions League… but the first year was difficult.
First with Pochettino and then with Mourinho. How was his arrival in England and how did he acclimatize to the Premier?
Thank God I had technicians who speak Spanish. I speak English but the native language helps a lot and is stronger. I think that since I arrived they received me very well, it is a club that I have a lot of affection for because it was my first club in Europe and in addition to that I think that my game in Argentina was more technical than physical and as a defender I won a lot physically, in being tough, strong in the brand, being in the Premier.
And the one from the English league to the Spanish one? Did he feel comfortable from the beginning?
It takes an adaptation process. The first three months I didn’t play, then I had an opportunity to play, it went well for me and a lot of that was also thanks to the coach (Emery) and the teammates. The coach, when a player was missing in a position, put me on, be it a pivot, central or lateral and it was something that showed me that he trusted me and when a coach trusts you, you want to give him back that trust on the pitch. With the companions, the same, I found an incredible dressing room, a dressing room of people with a big heart and friendly, so when you are in a dressing room like that, without realizing it you give one more plus.
He arrived at Villarreal and in his first year he managed to establish himself, the club bought his pass and was champion of the Europa League. Were you able to enjoy these achievements or is the current situation going so fast that you don’t have time for it?
I think that, as Unai tells us, you have to enjoy the journey. Every moment is to enjoy, be it good or bad. Unai loves what he does, he is a technician who spends hours and hours working, when we face a team, the work we do in the week, whatever the team, it shows. We have a lot of respect for him and the work he and the coaching staff do shows. At all times you have to enjoy the journey, there will be good or not so good things but it is what we like, you have to enjoy it.
Many say that against Bayern it was his most complete series and the one in which he stood out the most. Do you see it that way? How did you live it? From the outside you can see that concentration is a key point in your game, do you feel that way?
No (laughs). For me they were not my best games, but they are a quarterfinal of the Champions League, perhaps many people do not watch all the games and get carried away by two or three games. The truth is that in the first leg I felt good, the second game I suffered at times, I always said that Coman is one of the most unbalanced for me and at times I suffered it, but you have to know how to enjoy those moments, suffer all together, as a team . Perhaps on a personal level it wasn’t my best game but I really enjoyed the series because of what we did, we were all together against one of the best teams in Europe and we were able to pull it off together.
He played in the English league with Tottenham and now he has Liverpool in the semifinals. What do you expect from the Klopp team? Luis Díaz, Firmino, Salah, Mané… Who worries you the most?
We still don’t know how he’s going to play but we’re calm because the coaching staff is going to prepare him with all due respect and with many hours of work (the interview was held after the match against Valencia). We are going to give one hundred, we know that they are a top-level team, that comes from beating City, United, they are a very strong team offensively and they are very organized at the back. Of all the teams in Europe it seems to me the most balanced. Against Luis Díaz, Mané, Salah… I haven’t faced them yet, I respect them as they should be, they are top-level players, but we’ll see what happens.
Does it benefit you not to be favorites as it happened in the quarterfinals?
I think the coach said it, we don’t want to get here for them to say ‘Uh, how good, how nice they play…’; our goal is to give everything and obviously try to win the series, it would be something historic for the club, it would be something very nice for us and for the people, we know that we are not the favorites but it is not something that works in our favor.
Did you ever think about establishing yourself as a right back like you did? Does he still consider himself central or do you think he has already found his place on the court?
Last year I finished a nice season winning the Europa League but I noticed inside me that when they put me as a pivot or winger, without saying it to the outside, I noticed that I made excuses, that if something didn’t go well I said ‘I’m central, you understand me’. And I said that that shouldn’t happen to me and so this year before the season started I was talking to my wife and I told her ‘this year I play wherever they tell me, I’m going to play football and enjoy it’, I think that’s the best way to face it, when you are a boy and you play with your friends you run all over the field (laughs). Playing, things come more natural.
How important was the mental aspect in this? Do you talk about it with someone from the psychology department of the club?
I have never spoken to a psychologist since I became a professional, perhaps we did in lower-level students on a daily basis, who accompanied us, but I think it is essential to have a good head, to be well from this aspect. What I do do a lot and I like, I started doing it a year and a half ago, I didn’t do it before and I regret it, is reading, I think it helps you a lot. Reading a book on psychology, now I am reading one by Gustavo Ortiz, psychologist of many Olympic athletes and it helps me to read it, there are things that we already know but if we don’t reinforce them they go out of our heads.
He arrived as a center back, played as ‘5’ and then became a winger, being a starter over a player like Mario, an emblem in the club. How is his relationship with him? Did he advise you upon his arrival?
It’s a healthy competition, I tell you from the heart when it’s his turn, Aurier’s, I want them to do well, the same when he played center back… that’s why the relationship that exists within the locker room, we all pull in the same direction. Inside the locker room, Mario is an excellent person, he is the captain of the team and many times we had talks, advice, the whole group makes us very united.
What is Juan Foyth’s goal?
The first objective is to finish the season in the best way, in the group that will reinforce the individual. And then yes, the dream of every person, what is always there and one dreams of is being able to play in the World Cup and fight for it, always with good faith. If he plays, it will be something unique and if he doesn’t play, we will root for the team.