Gerard Piqué Talks World Cup with Luis Suárez | Piqué+
You have a good career huh? On the National Team.
I'm gonna get serious. Pretend I'm a journalist. Come on.
Thank you very much for being here with us.
– You’re welcome.
– We will be talking about the World Cups.
And about your career on the National Team.
Which I have researched a little bit.
Obviously I knew a lot about your career at Ajax and Liverpool.
But on the National Team, not so much.
And one of the surprises I came across is that you made your debut with the National Team right before we met.
When you played against me.
Against Spain, in the Under-20 World Cup in Canada in 2007.
It was in February against Colombia. Tell me about the experience, because you ended up getting sent off.
I had no idea this happened.
Well, it was my first year at Groningen.
And well, I couldn’t go to the South American Under-20 with Uruguay.
And well… since I was scoring goals and so on at Groningen, they called me up for–
For that exhibition game with the full National Team, and that’s when I made my debut.
And well, before the game they had told me that the only jersey that was left was the number 10.
And they told me that…
Well [Sebastián] Loco Abreu, who–
Who was a footballing father for me at the time, said not to take it because it would bring bad luck.
And at the end of the game he was right, because I made my debut and …
– Red card.
But you drew a penalty kick.
Yes, yes, well truth is, for my first game with the national team–
-We won 3–1 in Cúcuta.
Against Colombia — and the truth is, it was a very good, beautiful experience to make my debut.
Then the Under-20 World Cup comes around, where we met in the first game, 2–2.
You score a golazo.
And well, you take a 2-0 lead, we end up tying…
And from there on you go on to join the full national team.
– Yes, well…
I wasn’t sure if the coach was going to take me with the full National Team to Copa America.
Or if I had to go to the Under-20 World Cup.
Well, they decided to send me to the Under-20 World Cup, where I knew I would play, and well…
We got to play the first game against you [Spain]
I remember we were winning until the end of the game when you tied it.
Then in September, I think, the 2007 qualifiers started.
And from then on I started to —
To play with the full national team, which surprised me because in the first game of the qualifiers I was a starter.
– After the qualifiers of the 2010 World Cup comes around.
It’s your first World Cup, I imagine those are amazing memories, no?
You had a perfect World Cup, spectacular.
Yes. I think that Uruguay in terms of overall level —
Always in the World Cup there’s one team that surprises.
And, well, in that one I think it was us.
It was between us and Ghana, and in the quarterfinals we ended up winning against them on penalty kicks.
I assume later you will ask me about the handball, hahaha!
As for the experience, it was spectacular for Uruguay to get to the quarterfinals.
We got to the semis in–
With the whole team in good form, and Diego Forlán, in that World Cup, he killed it. It was spectacular.
I think he was our guiding light.
And I think, for what Uruguay was, and how Uruguay got there, we had a huge World Cup.
In the group stage, you played against France, I believe you tie 0-0. Then South Africa who you beat 3–0.
You score the first goal against Mexico.
You win 1–0.
And go through as leaders [first in the group], I think?
Yes, we went through as leaders.
Against South Korea you score two goals, and you win 2–1.
And in the quarterfinals that thing with Ghana happens.
Later though, in the semifinals … I also watched the Holland game.
It was a game…
– I think that —
– You put forward very offensive-minded football — a lot of goals all the time.
– Yes, I think that…
… it’s not for nothing. It’s easy to talk now, but if…
…if we would have played the semifinal against Holland…
…with [central defender Diego] Lugano, who in that moment was spectacular…
[Jorge Ciro] Fucile, who was named, I believe, the best left wingback of the World Cup…
And me, I had been suspended…
If the three of us would have played, it would have been different. We played with many starters which was…
Holland had a little bit of luck.
But still, despite the circumstances we played, the score was 3–2.
It was a very fair result.
But otherwise, I think we would have had one or more opportunities to reach the final.
And then I don’t know if we would have won it or not.
– Tell me how you felt after that handball [against Ghana in the quarters]
Because afterward I saw you in the locker room tunnel, when you saw them missing the penalty kick and …
There’s an image of you celebrating when the ball hits the bar.
So you go to penalty kicks, and you end up qualifying.
But, that play is spectacular — first you save it without touching it with your hand…
And afterward you do put your hand on it.
It must have been a very odd sensation for you–
Because you ended up being sent off and not being able to play in the semifinals, but you did save the team.
– Yes, the truth is that, it was a bit of everything.
Of being depressed.
Being sad for being sent off.
Because we were going to lose, but if they didn’t score that goal then we weren’t going to lose.
Thirty seconds later when he takes the penalty kick, the satisfaction of …
…well, I took a risk in a situation of which I have been blamed for anti fair play.
However, the Ghana player missing the penalty is not my fault.
-Not at all.
I didn’t kick anyone or anything like that.
That’s why I think that I celebrated like that, for having taken a risk for something that was worth it.
And I remember that I celebrated it more than a goal. A teammate on the bench passed out on that play, hahaha.
– Seriously?! I didn’t know that. Who was it?
– Castillo. Juan Castillo.
– He passed out! Hahaha.
– He passed out in the celebration of the penalty kick, he says he passed out.
And well, I left screaming.
And went to the locker room to watch the penalty kicks.
And, the truth is, it was painful watching the penalty kicks in the locker room.
I’ll tell you more, when El Loco Abreu hits the penalty kick I was with one of the–
-He does a Panenka.
-Yes, yes, yes. He chips it, El Loco…
And… we were with one of the kit men.
We are watching what El Loco is doing…
And we say “good, good, good” —
And we see everyone taking off running. We hadn’t realized that we had won!
And then we went running onto the field, and it was incredible.
It was a moment that, to me, is one of the best moments I experienced with the national team.
– Then the 2011 Copa America comes about.
And there I think — you even have it tattooed [both laughing].
It's the only title, I always joke that you've tattooed.
– You'd do your whole body, you told me, if you tattooed all your titles.
– But it’s true you have a perfect tournament in Argentina.
You’re named the best player of the tournament as well.
You score both goals against Peru in the semifinals.
In the final you also score against…
– Against Paraguay, that’s right.
You won 3–0.
I think, winning a title with Uruguay, for an Uruguayan, must be the ultimate thing, no?
Yes, and well…it was a plus that…
That Uruguay had won the 1987 Copa America also in Argentina.
And I think that beating Argentina in the quarterfinals was a huge boost for us.
A hard hit for Argentina playing at home.
But I think that, in overall level of play, it was a Copa we deserved for the way that we did it.
We didn’t have any bad moments, and sincerely…
…when we won the semifinal against Peru, I said–
We told ourselves that we were in a good place.
Paraguay got to the final playing 120 minutes in quarters and semis and winning by penalty kicks.
So they were physically tired and all that, which was a plus for us…
-With El Tata [manager Tata Martino].
– Yes, with El Tata.
And well the Copa America, the stadium was full of Uruguayans.
And it was an unforgettable tournament, and for me being awarded best player was obviously a plus.
I almost got the top scorer too, I think [Peru’s Paolo] Guerrero beat me by a goal.
-Who in the third-place game scored like three goals.
– Oh really? I didn’t know.
– Yes, I was paying attention — hahaha!
Truth is, it was an amazing tournament, and…
And for a Uruguayan, it’s something spectacular and it’s valued tremendously.
– The 2014 World Cup comes about, and that season you are the best player in the Premier League.
I believe top scorer, too, in the qualifiers, with 11 goals.
See? I prepared well.
-I beat Leo by one. By one.
-Oh yeah! hahaha! I’m gonna tell him.
Then right before the World Cup you had a minor knee injury, in the meniscus I believe.
You get an arthroscopy done.
You barely make it back.
You miss the first game against Costa Rica…
And the team actually ends up losing.
And next you’re up against England and Italy, who are the strong teams.
You play against England, and you score both goals.
Tell me a little bit about how you felt, because you were coming from the injury.
It was the English
And whether you want it or not, well…
Because of how they treated you there I’m sure you wanted to beat them.
How was all that?
– The truth is that–
It was a complicated moment because of the injury because…
…it happened to occur in the last game, Liverpool–Newcastle. In which…
…we had been close to fighting for the Premier.
It was the last game. City had already won the championship, and we were…
It was a play against a defender and I feel a hit, that’s it. Afterward I was on vacation for a week.
I remember I was here in Barcelona
And nothing, I went back to Uruguay to train, and I was feeling good. And on the second day of training.
I make a move, and I feel something in my knee and…
… there the doctor told me there was already an injury from a previous hit.
And well, I think, I don’t remember if there was…
It was on the 20th, so there was less than a month to the first game.
And truth is I had that doubt of whether to get surgery, let it go and miss the World Cup.
However, in that moment, obviously my…
…my optimism, the support from my family….
I also had faith in the Uruguay trainer, Walter Ferreira.
He told me, “Don’t worry, you will make it.” And, well…
There was also doubt about whether El Maestro [manager Óscar Tabárez], if I got the surgery…
If he was going to bring me to the World Cup knowing that…
There would be a period, the first two or three games that I wouldn’t…
They took me thinking that at the most I would play the third game.
And if we went through. Knowing that it was difficult, and well…
…truth is, I worked a lot during that period to make it to the World Cup.
In the first game, I was on the bench but, hard-headed as I am, I remember I went to warm up on my own, hahaha.
Because I wanted to get into the game no matter what.
And El Maestro, at no point did he consider the option of letting me in, but there I was warming up.
-He didn’t have you in mind.
-And truth is, I ended up pissed off for not having played.
We were losing in the debut and well.
In the days leading up to the England game, I really killed myself to be able to make it to the game.
Especially against the English, since I had gone through a tough time.
I remember the day after the injury, when the stuff about the possible surgery came out.
The English headlines said things like: “Hope the recovery goes slow.”
And so on, for me not to make the game.
And well, playing against them and scoring two goals, truth is, it was…
…for me, it was the most emotional moment I’ve lived in my career as a national team player
Regardless of the titles and the previous World Cups — for everything…
For what my recovery meant, and of the trainer who was with me.
– You celebrated the second goal with him, no?
Yes. No, the first one.
The first one, also because — a lot of people don’t know this
He was coming out of recovering from a lymph cancer.
And after some time he passed away.
Six months after the World Cup, he passed away.
And, well, he went with a so-and-so doctor’s note.
Because I told him I wanted to go to the World Cup, but [only] if he went with me.
It was a really beautiful story that I had with him, and, well…
That’s why the first thing I did was to remember him in that moment in which he was present…
And truth is, until this day, it’s a moment that I remember a lot.
– Then the Italy game comes about.
Where you win…
…but, well, there’s the incident with the biting of [Giorgio] Chiellini.
From the moment it happens–
During the game, until the end of the game…
…are you already thinking about what’s going to happen to you…
– …because you know … from previous occasions.
Or is it once the game ends, you think, “Oof, I think I’ve messed up?”
– After that — after I did it — I realized immediately.
We score our goal a few minutes after, I think it’s about 10 minutes after when [Diego] Godín scores.
And I don’t celebrate it as much as I usually would — the way everyone else celebrated it…
Because I was already thinking about the aftermath.
We qualify, and I think we went to thank the Uruguayan fans. Everyone is screaming, celebrating.
Because obviously we had won against the two Europeans, qualifying and all.
I enter the locker room and the first thing I do was to speak with my wife, who was there with the kids and all.
And she asks me, asked me what had I done. And obviously…
…I always…initially I didn’t want to accept reality — negating, crying, and all and…
And, well, after it all…
Some feelings in the locker room were of happiness, but also…
Everyone checking their phones and all for what was to come.
And, well, the truth is, it was a very…
Very painful moment for me…
For the team.
And obviously, what happened, it affects you. It hurts you and all that.
– When did you start talks with Barcelona about coming here? That summer, before the World Cup?
No, it was right then — there at the World Cup. It was during the World Cup period.
And during any moment, did it cross your mind that because of it …
– … the Barcelona deal could fall through?
Yes, yes. Because.
It was everything — in addition to thinking about the World Cup
And being able to fulfill my dream to come here to Barça…
…everything had gone overboard for me.
And I think that…
…in the few days after that.
Before they kicked me out of the World Cup — that’s when I spoke with Zubi [Andoni Zubizarreta]
And the president, and they told me to be calm because Barça still wanted me and …
And I have no problem saying it, I cried because…
…they were accepting me.
And me going through what I did in that moment.
And with the shit I had caused…
It was complicated to trust in me.
Truth is, Barça has been so good to me, and I will always be very grateful for that.
– The truth is, I know very few teammates…
…who are as noble and good people as you are.
But I am telling you now, and I am serious — you know the relationship we have.
When we react on the playing field, people don’t know our hearts are pumping a thousand times per minute.
It’s just that these are things that happen, and I think your behavior at Barça from the moment you arrived…
…not only in the locker room —
Which I have told you, I think you are one of the nicest people I have met in a locker room.
But also on the playing field, it’s admirable.
So, Gordo, you should know it’s an honor to have you as a teammate.
-It’s the first time you give me goosebumps.
You always have to try to be the same person, no?
Knowing where I was coming, to Barça, as we always said.
You said it — that with Ney and Leo being here, it was complicated for me to come here.
Be well liked, be at that level and…
…and trying to do it as good as possible, as much inside as outside the locker room.
– I will throw out a statistic that I was analyzing. You always like it when I throw out statistics!
But since you made your debut in the World Cup…
Every time you’ve been on the playing field, Uruguay never lost.
And the three times you didn’t play…
Uruguay has lost.
Which is in the semifinal of the 2010 World Cup.
Against Costa Rica before that.
And eventually the time against Colombia when Uruguay was eliminated when all this happens.
So, don’t get injured, don’t get suspended.
And perhaps you will win the 2018 World Cup!
What are your thoughts on it? How do you view the 2018 World Cup?
Truth is, there are many strong teams today.
And it’s very complicated.
It will be very even, and…
There will always be one surprise team.
Of which you have to be careful with everything, no?
– Do you see a favorite?
Any team that’s more of a favorite than the others, or do you see a group of teams, of which anyone can win?
Favorite … Uruguay! Hahaha!
– Damn, you like to add some pressure, eh? Hahaha!
– Nah, I think there are many.
Obviously, the European teams: Germany, for being the last champion.
Spain is playing at an amazing level.
France I like a lot — the players they have…
Although today the majority are young, maybe the next World Cup, but France is France.
And then obviously Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.
– What surprised me a lot, since you made your debut with the National Team, you already have, I believe…
…95 caps and 49 goals.
You’ve always had the same coach and you talk about him as El Maestro.
So explain to me a little bit about that, because…
It’s complicated to see a coach that many years on the same bench.
Truth is, great credit to what he’s done, because…
In today’s day and age he is an example, a reference (point) in Uruguay.
What he says is sacred — Maestro Tabárez —
For what he has done for Uruguay, because he’s changed tons of things.
The players today respect him a lot.
And everything he says is respectable for the new players who come and who learn and all.
And I think he has earned the maximum possible respect in Uruguay.
And that’s why no one gets overly animated even when Uruguay has gone through complicated moments.
He’s not even criticized, hasn’t been blamed for poor results, instead…
…people always look for a formula for change but for El Maestro to continue.
I think that… that’s admirable for what he has earned with the trajectory he has…
And I think for me he has sincerely been…
To me he is the best coach I have had for what he means to me as a player.
As a human being, for how he has made me mature, how he has made me change…
He has done some things for me, like what happened in the 2014 World Cup.
He was something with FIFA regarding coaches, and he renounced it for the way FIFA had treated me.
So imagine how grateful I am to him.
And well, today he is one of the people I will always be thankful to.
– And in conclusion, you are of the same generation —
Obviously we are of the '87 — but also [Edinson] Cavani is of the '87.
I assume you've coincided with him from the youth levels until now in the national team.
What kind of relationship do you have with him?
Do you think it’s the only, the last opportunity you have to be able to win a World Cup?
I know these are ‘major words’ but in the next one you will already be 35 years old I think.
– Obviously we are of the same generation.
We have been there since 2007 from when we made our debut.
With the under 20s, playing together. And later…
… he appeared in a couple of more games than me with the full national team, and we always coincided.
We both happen to be from Salto, the same city in Uruguay.
And well, obviously, Uruguay is very enthusiastic with…
…how we both perform in a European and global level.
We are a reference for Uruguay.
And I think that gives people encouragement to be enthusiastic, to have some hope.
And well, what we'll try to do with Edi is —
To do it the best way possible to try to have that percentage to get far with Uruguay.
– And a question to wrap up: Do we win anything with Barça this year or what?
– Yes, for sure!
– Leo told me the same thing, so now I am super excited. Hahaha!
Well, thank you so much Gordo, I really mean it, thank you.