Raúl García “I Don’t Want To Play The Cup Final Without Aduriz”
It’s been nearly two months since Athletic last took the field but that may finally change soon. Plans are being made for players to return to training facilities in early May with the goal of starting games behind closed doors in June. Seeing a light at the end of the tunnel is exciting, especially for players who have found it difficult to be quarantined at home for so long.
“It’s a very hard situation for everyone and I’m finding it hard to be between four walls,” said Raúl García during an interview with Alfonso Herrán of AS. “It’s difficult to train because not competing makes you lose the physical shape you had before. We have to try to take it in the best possible way.”
As usual, García made it clear that talking about the return of football was unnecessary given the ongoing fight against Covid-19 in the country. “The priority is the health issue. Our work is not more important than that or anything else. Right now there is no need to talk about dates and football.”
In the end, if football does return games will be played behind closed doors. This likely means that the Copa del Rey could also take place without fans in attendance which García can’t imagine happening.
“I don’t see a final without an audience. I’ve had to play twice without fans and it’s not football. If everything is postponed there are players who won’t be there for the final, but respect for society must be prioritized. I don’t want to play the Cup final without Aduriz. The Cup has always given us special illusion and would be the icing on his career. I prefer to play it with him because he deserves it and it would be nice for everyone.”
The first team players and coaches recently agreed to a wage reduction in order to protect the other employees at the club. García explained that it wasn’t required, but the team wanted to do their part to help the situation.
“We didn’t have the obligation to reduce wages because there are contracts in place, but we are aware of the situation in which we live. When you put footballers in privileged position I don’t like it, because it’s not true. It was an understandable situation in which we all had to come together, not only for the club, but also for the those who work for the club and the society itself. We need good examples to make people more positive.”
Throughout his career Raúl García has been labeled as an overly aggressive player which has always frustrated him. The veteran shared that he’s worked hard for his success and enjoys playing football, but isn’t ignorant to everyday life for others.
“Those who know me know that I’m very different on the field and off. I’m a very competitive person, I like to win and I don’t like protesting which is a label that I have. I’m aware of ow important the dat to day work is. I don’t live in a bubble. I’m lucky and I have to sweat to be able to have a job like the one I have with wages like there are, but I don’t live separated from all the problems of society because of my family, my friends, and the people close to me.”
García has always taken pride in working hard for success, something he learned at an early age. While some might have a negative opinion of him, García says everybody knows he gives his all on the field.
“I had no doubt about it because I know how I am. Since childhood I’ve been taught that everything is achieved with effort and sacrifice. You may like more or less how I play, but there is no doubt that I give everything. In the teams I’ve played for everyone talks about that facet. I don’t consider myself more or less than anyone because I just put myself at the service of the club.”
In the end, García pointed out that it’s impossible for fans to have an accurate understanding of players just by watching them in games. While many have accused García of being too harsh with referees he highlighted that he’s always had a professional relationships with those officiating matches.
“The bad ones aren’t so bad and the good ones aren’t so good. As long as I’ve been in my career I’ve never been sent off for protesting. I’ve also never hidden that I’m a passionate player, but I never intend to cross that line. Each referee and each player is different. I’m aware of what I can and cannot do. No referee will tell you that I’ve been disrespectful. I know them and they also know me.”
In all his years of playing football García has never been someone in the spotlight. Although he always welcomes fans who want to approach him in public, he also shared that getting wrapped in fame or what others think can lead to issues.
“Fame and being recognized on the street is the greatest poison in football. There are many examples of footballers with that image of never wanting to be stopped and the footballer gets labeled, but most of us are oblivious to that. We like people to tell us when we do things right and we accept that they criticize us when we make mistakes, but when you haven’t lived the situation on this side of things that loss of intimacy is misunderstood. It’s what I like least about football. I like to be congratulated or criticized constructively. I like people who have an opinion contrary to what I think. I love talking to them. I’ve never complained about that.”
There’s no question that Raúl García has been a leader on and off the field for Athletic, but he doesn’t necessarily see it that way. He just wants to work hard personally to continue having success while also helping younger players learn how to be professionals.
“I’ve never liked talking about myself as a leader. I try to contribute what I can and, more so now with the experience I’ve gained, help other players a little. I’ve always considered myself a very mature person, with clear ideas, and that has made me go down a path in which I think I’m bearing good fruit.”
Before the football stoppage García was being used mainly as a striker and was asked about the move. The 33-year-old explained that he’s just happy to be on the field and is willing to do whatever is asked of him by the coach.
“I like it because I’m playing and I must have respect for my teammates who aren’t playing. Complaining about being used there would be unfair in every way. It’s not the position where I feel the most comfortable but I’m at the command of a coach who demands certain things from me and when he puts me there I will try to do it in the best way regardless of whether I think it favors me more or less.”
When Raúl García joined Athletic in the summer of 2015 he said that he was excited to face a new challenge and wanted to earn the same level of respect that he had at Atlético Madrid. It’s safe to say he’s done just that and he agrees that the move to San Mamés has been a big success.
“Yes, because I feel very important in the locker room and for the club. Since I started playing football it’s always been something important to me and I have it here. I don’t like just being one more player. To earn respect you have to work hard and get out of a comfortable situation which is complicated because many times you don’t want to take risks or change when you’re doing well. I came to a club where the demand was going to be maximum and the confidence that I have in what I do pushed me to get what I have.”
When asked if he would like to return to Osasuna or retire at Athletic García was quick to point out that no matter how he answered the question someone would take it the wrong way. He’s very happy at Athletic but will always have a special love for Osasuna where he grew up.
“I’ve played for three clubs and have felt loved by each. I have tried to give it back in the best possible way. Osasuna has given me everything. Regardless of whether I’m with Athletic I wouldn’t think of speaking badly about Osasuna because I have no reason or sense to do so. I’m a grateful person and I want Osasuna to do well. There is no need to talk about the future. If I were to say that I’d like to return or retire here some would take it as me speaking badly of the other side.”
Raúl García has made 201 appearances for Athletic during his five seasons with the club, scoring 57 goals and becoming a fan-favorite at San Mamés. Rulo, as he is affectionately called by supporters, no dreams of helping Athletic win the Copa del Rey final and lift the trophy for the first time in 36 years.