Raúl García “It’s Selfish To Talk About The Final Right Now”
There’s a new normal in the world as countries work to limit the spread of Covid-19. The pandemic has brought football to a sudden halt and for now there’s no clear idea as to when the season will resume. Instead of having matches and training every day, players are quarantined at home and Athletic’s Raúl García hopes that this will be a time of reflection for everyone.
“We are in a situation that we have never faced before and it’s during bad times where people learn,” García said during Saturday’s virtual press conference. “I want people to reflect. You don’t have to be kind only when things are going wrong, it should happen at all times. You don’t have to wait until something like this to donate, you can always be helping economically and in other ways.”
When football does return Athletic will be eager to play the Copa del Rey final in hopes of lifting the first title since 1984. However, García is careful to point out that there are more important matters at the moment.
“We have a dream to play the Cup final. We are excited about it because the fans will enjoy it, but we are in such a complicated situation with so much uncertainty. It’s selfish to talk about the final right now. It’s out of place to talk about dates or if the league will end or not. You have to prioritize things because there are people who are going through very tough moments and it’s not fair to talk about it. You have be respectful.”
Football will return at some point, but that’s not the priority. “We live day by day and right now the most worrying thing is health and that everything improves,” says García. “From there we will focus on other things, but right now football is secondary. We have to try to be positive and from there we will see how everything happens.”
Winning the Cup is everyone’s dream right now, though García isn’t merely hoping. The 33-year-old is determined to actually play the final and says that his time with Athletic has been even better than he expected when he first signed with the club.
“I don’t want to think about the day that we will the Cup because I want to live it. I know that it will be an unforgettable moment because of the desire that we have and for the merit of winning a title with Athletic. We are excited for the moment to arrive because we’re sure that we will lift a title soon. Since I arrived at Athletic until today everything they told me about the club has fallen short. You see what the club means to everyone. The fans feel it on their own and that is something different with respect to other teams. I’m happy to have come here and be part of it.”
Leaving Atlético Madrid in the summer of 2015 wasn’t an easy decision. “I needed to feel important on the field,” García explained. “It was difficult but when the moment came I was clear. I had earned an important position in the locker room at Atlético and coming here was a challenge to earn what I already had in Madrid.”
Despite his age Raúl García hopes to continue playing football and isn’t thinking about retirement right now. Ultimately, he would like to end his career with Athletic but doesn’t know what will come after he hangs up his boots.
“I want to think that I have years left. When you see that retirement is closer and consider the future I don’t know if I will coach or do something else. If you ask me, if it were up to me, I would like to retire here. I’m delighted being here but it’s the club that has to make that decision. I’m focused on the current season. My family is happy and football-wise I’m playing an important role.”
Throughout his career García has gained many supporters and as well as plenty of criticism. He’s not blind to the claims that he’s too aggressive or physical, but contends that it’s not an accurate assessment.
“I don’t live in a bubble and I don’t like how people label me. Those who only watch me play 90 minutes against their team think I’m someone else and don’t really understand me. People who know me normally speak well of me. I have been playing for so many years that I have also done some things poorly. When you compete it’s normal for the opponent to be upset, but the only objective is that the fans support you and speak well of you. I like to win but off the field I’m a much calmer person.”
With the team not able to train at Lezama the club has given each player an individualized exercise plan to follow at home. García admitted that it’s harder to stay in shape at his age but that he’s doing everything possible to be at his very best when the season resumes.
“We have a great coaching staff and the trainers have sent us good routines from the club. It’s obvious that when you aren’t competing it’s difficult to stay in the physical shape you had before, but I’m very strict. In the morning I have breakfast with the family, which is something that usually doesn’t happen because we do it at Lezama. For training I would say that it’s more difficult for a 35-year-old than a 20-year-old, but there are different methods and there is also experience that is beneficial.”
Raúl García has scored 9 goals so far this season, second only to Iñaki Williams, Since joining Athletic the midfielder has been an integral player and leader in the team and is determined to continue performing at a high level. Rulo, as he is affectionately known by Athletic fans, is a favorite at San Mamés and could further cement his legacy in Bilbao by helping the Zurigorri win the Copa del Rey.