No one can believe we’re playing Real Madrid – Almunia
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No one can believe we’re playing Real Madrid – Almunia

December 15, 2019

In 2014 I stopped playing football… …I had a little problem with my heart so I had to stop… …suddenly. But I was not unhappy to stop playing because at 37 I was OK, I was ready to stop. It’s OK now. It’s a new challenge for me; goalkeeping coach. I like what I do. [Did you always envisage a life as a coach, a manager or was it something completely new for you?] Honestly, no. After football I said to myself, ‘Manu no more football, no coaching, nothing.’ No more football forever. But after a while – it’s something you’ve been doing for 20 years so the body, the brain demands some football. I was ready to start again in a new challenge like this. People don’t believe it that we’re playing against Madrid, it’s a big reward for us. [Maybe players like Romarinho, or Boussoufa… …or even yourself might have played in bigger matches Libertadores, Champions League… …when you have guys from the United Arab Emirates, this must be life changing for them…] You only have to see their faces after winning against Urawa, the Japanese team. Before that match everybody was talking about, of course, it’s great to reach the semi-final of such a good tournament but… it’s doubly exciting to reach the semi-final because we will play against Real Madrid. [They’ve been linked with a transfer for Kepa [Arrizabalaga], so as a goalkeeping coach have you seen anything in the Athletic [Bilbao] goalkeeper that makes you think he could be a… …big star for Madrid in the future? I don’t know if Real Madrid will sign Kepa. He’s a very good goalkeeper for the future. I don’t know if he’s the best, I’ve not seen him too much this year. But if Real Madrid are focussing on him it’s because he can be a good goalkeeper for the future.

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