At 29, central defender Gerard Piqué has already won the biggest prizes in club football with Barcelona, but as UEFA.com discovers, the lifelong Blaugrana fan has lost none of his passion for the club and the game.
UEFA.com: What motivates you to keep pushing yourself day in, day out?
Gerard Piqué: Well, that’s difficult. Don’t think it’s easy. There are a lot of games, and you’re at a club where you should always win, and you have to find the desire and motivation to win every game, whether you’re playing a smaller team or you’re going to [Arsenal]. So that takes a lot – but it’s our job. And as the season progresses, it gets easier, because you know it’s a matter of days or weeks before you can win an actual trophy.
UEFA.com: How do you maintain that desire?
Piqué: In the end, it’s a short career: ten to 20 years if you take care of yourself. You try in every training session and every match, but it’s true there are many other things to distract you: your private life, and other things that might require some headspace. But when you put on those boots, and when you train, and when you play a game for the Barcelona fans who want to see their team win, you have to challenge yourself. It’s the only option. You cannot be happy with a good two or three-year period – you have to try and improve. I think that’s the objective of the whole team.
UEFA.com: Do you ever think about your footballing legacy?
Piqué: The only thing you can focus on is doing your best, winning as many trophies as possible, and making sure people enjoy what you do. I think we’ve found a generation of players with a brutal amount of talent, and we have to benefit from that as much as possible. And later, when we retire, we’ll see if people value what we did as something important.
UEFA.com: Barcelona can become the first club to defend the UEFA Champions League title this season; what do landmarks like that mean to you?
Piqué: It’s obviously a plus to be able to write even more history. I think we can do it, but there’s still a lot of work to do, remembering these are three very difficult months. But obviously we have to go for it.
UEFA.com: How would you compare this team to the other Barcelona sides you have played in?
Piqué: I think we have more variety in terms of winning back the ball, possession and controlling the rhythm of the game. We’re always creating chances. Another variation we’ve found, when we’re defending, is that we can drop a bit deeper and try to go for a counterattack. That gives us something different – something we didn’t have. I remember it used to be harder for us to drop back and defend. We didn’t really like it, it made us feel uncomfortable. Now we feel more comfortable, knowing we have three players up front who are very quick and make us dangerous on every counter. That helps us to make sure that, both with or without the ball, we have options to win the game.
UEFA.com: Final question: you only need 40 more goals to reach 50 in your career. Can you score them this season?
Piqué: Well, this season will be difficult, but perhaps with one goal a game we could get there, so I would have to attack more! But no, it’s not an objective to score goals. But you do know I like to be involved in attacks. That 50 target is still a long way off – maybe by the end of my career I’ll get there.
Gerard Piqué and Lionel Messi celebrate a Barcelona goal