Dani García “Above All I Miss Being At Lezama And Training”
There’s a new normal in the world of football. Instead of training every day and playing matches, footballers are quarantined at home as the Covid-19 pandemic has brought life to a halt. While there’s still hope that the season will return players are trying to keep a positive attitude and stay in the best shape possible. Speaking to Robert Basic in an interview with El Correo, Dani García weighed in on the situation and admitted that it feels like it’s been a very long time since he was last on the field.
“It seems like it’s been much longer than a few weeks. The other day I saw that a month had passed since we played in Valladolid and it seems to me that it’s been at least three months or more. I’m trying to do my best to distract myself with a thousand things. I don’t think much about it. I try to keep myself distracted, to keep my mind busy. The less I think about it the better.”
The football stoppage was abrupt. Athletic’s last training session at Lezama took place on a Friday with the team scheduled to return a few days later, but that never happened. García has since become frustrated that those in power didn’t act sooner.
“We didn’t say goodbye. We didn’t think it was going to be that bad. The plan was to go back on Tuesday, but things changed. It happened like this because mistakes were made. When all of this is over, hopefully with as little damage as possible, someone will have to explain why it happened like this. I don’t know much about politics but I read. Well, people who make mistakes must assume the consequences and give the necessary explanations.”
Like many, the 29-year-old is taking the measure very seriously. García shared that he has been worried about his family throughout the ordeal.
“When I go out I go in a hurry. I try take as little as possible. I’m afraid for my relatives and for my parents. My sister was on Erasmus in Italy and had to return. She came back when she could. I was worried. Above all I fear for the older people in the family.”
In light of the current situation, García hopes that people will have a new perspective on life but worries that won’t be the case for long. “I don’t think it will last,” he said. “We will evaluate it for a few days, but then we will return to the old way of things. We’re all that way. When you are well you don’t appreciate it. It will be a while and then we will live in a hurry again.
Life has certainly changed for everyone across the globe. While it’s difficult to see any good coming from the pandemic, García notes that at the very least the medical professionals are receiving the appreciation they have always deserved.
“There are few positive things from this. I have to mention the courage of the people who work in the health sector. At last they will be put on the ladder they deserve and given the importance they deserve. I would also highlight that we have united a little more, especially with the closest people, but this crisis will make us more separated from those making decisions. They have made many mistakes.”
The life of a professional footballer has certainly been taken for granted. “Above all, I miss being at Lezama and training,” said García. “I also miss the competition but I handle that better.” The midfielder went on to explain that he has always had a deep love for the game, but has since learned how to have a more healthy outlook on football.
“I was always glued to a ball. I lived on the football field and never wanted to leave. It was football, football, football. Then time started to pass and I met my girlfriend. I’m still in love with football, but I gave it more importance than I do now. Before I only thought about games. Now I’m happier with my way of seeing football. I give it all the importance it has, but I’m also able to disconnect.”
Having struggled with anxiety in the past, García is now in a much better frame of mind. Today, the former Eibar captain is able to disconnect in a way that every player needs to stay positive and strong mentally.
“You have to think about the game without obsessing. I’ve learned how to have a more healthy mindset. It started last year and eve more this year. When we lose I’m annoyed, but the next day I go to Lezama, talk to my teammates, and start thinking about the next game.”
García’s path to professional football was far from traditional. At one point he was barely making a living while playing for Alicante, but refused to give up on his goal and now dreams of playing his first match in Europe.
“I always wanted to play football. I had the support of my father and of those closest to me. They made sure I didn’t throw in the towel and I was never going to. I like challenges. It was clear that I couldn’t continue at Alicante only making €400 while my father had to work in the factory for eight hours. I couldn’t allow it. Getafe signed me, then Eibar, and the rest is known. My next goal is to play in a European competition. It would be an added bonus of winning the Cup this year.”
For now there is no way of knowing if the season will return. García was originally optimistic that the campaign would resume, but expressed his belief that he doesn’t think it will happen given how the situation has progressed.
“If you asked me a few weeks ago I would have said yes without question. Now every day that passes I lean more towards no. I prefer not to get my hopes up. There are also optimistic people who thing that things will be the same as before. We all miss so many things. When we are able to go out again we still won’t be able to do them. At first we will leave home, go to Lezama, and then come straight back home. It will be gradual. We all have questions about what will happen next.”
If the season does return it may have to take place behind closed doors. The thought of allowing thousands of people to fill a stadium seems impossible for the foreseeable future and García agrees.
“As long as the state of alarm is in place we can’t look beyond what is happening in society. Even if the season resumes I don’t think games will be played with fans. I don’t know when it will happen, but it will certainly take us a while to see fans allowed at the fields again.”
On the other hand, the Spanish Football Federation is doing everything possible to play the Copa del Rey final with fans in attendance even if it has to wait until the next campaign.
“The Cup final has to be played with fans, however long that may be. July, August, September…as long as the fans are there. The Cup final is a party and also a Basque derby this time. I honestly can’t imagine it without the fans.”
Football is not a priority right now as Covid-19 continues to disrupt the very fabric of society. However, clubs must also plan for the future and with games not taking place there will be a significant financial impact. Several players have publicly shared their willingness to take pay cuts to help the club if needed with García also giving his approval.
“Yes. If Athletic sees it as necessary then of course we will help. We are aware of the situation we’re experiencing. We know that Athletic is a healthy club, that it has a good foundation, but if the club needs us we will always be there. If the club needs it there would be no problem lowering our wages. If I were a captain I could give more details, but since I’m not I can’t contribute much more.”
Before the football stoppage García was in incredible form for Athletic. “I turn 30 next month and I feel great,” he mentioned. “They say that 28 to 30 is a footballer’s prime. Well I think I’m in my best shape.” It’s taken many years, but Dani García will soon play his very first final and hopefully his make his European debut as well.