Exclusive Pedri interview: I am enjoying this like a child

SPORT EXCLUSIVE

The Spain and Barca star spoke to Diario Sport about life at Euro 2020

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You arrived in the Spain team after 37 league games with Barca, now it’s three starts in a row for La Roja. What a way to break into the elite!

I’m very happy to have the confidence of the coach and to be able to dispute all the minutes I can with Spain and give everything I can in each game and to be as fresh as possible.

How can you digest such rapid success? 

Well! Everything is happening very quickly in my career, and I’m very happy to enjoy what I like most. I’m calm and confident in what I’m doing. I have to thank my coaches for the trust they have given me and pay them back on the pitch.

Can you think about and value the whirlwind you’re in?

I go day to day, taking things normally. I’m calm, knowing I have a lot of room to improve and I have to do so. I try to learn things from the veterans here and at the club to improve.

How can you be so calm at just 18 when playing?

I try to be calm on the pitch. Things have changed a little with the luck of having fans in the stands at La Cartuja, but it does not change and I stay with the idea of being as calm as possible. I think that’s the best way for things to go well.

The ball never burns? 

I try to think about the play, look for the free man and play going forwards. If you break lines the team advances and you can help a lot, that’s always the best part of playing deeper.

The Slovakia game came with more pressure in the days before, compared to others in your career so far?

It was one of the most important. We had to win whatever happened, although for me all games are important. I always try to play as if it was my last game and do the best possible. I want to help the team as much as I can.

Your status with Spain seems more elevated with Barca and you have to take more responsibility, for example, there’s no Messi here?

I try to avoid the reality, as I said, I want to be calm and not think about having a status. Here everyone is important, the 24 players we are, we have a great team and a great group. We are very united in the camp and bringing our best to the national team.

You are enjoying the Euros?

I’m enjoying it like I’m a kid, until now I was (he laughs). It’s a dream to be here and I’m enjoying it for me and all the people around me.

The national team always want the ball, and the ball fits you like a ring.

The players here, we’re all of the same profile, we like the ball, moving it from side to side to find the free man and that’s what makes us strong. It takes us where we want to go and it’s what we have to do. Move the ball and find the free man. That’s how we create a lot of chances and we have to finish the,. 

This style of football’s always been your aim?

Yes, I grew up with it. I always watched Spain and Barca, with Xavi, Iniesta and all the great footballers that made us world champions. We try to play this football we like and we’re used to since we were young.

Iniesta comparisons are constant, do you like them or are you getting fed up?

It’s a pride that they compare me with Iniesta because he is a great player and person. But I have to be Pedri and try to have my career. Iniesta is a great player, it’s nice they compare me with him, but I will try to do my own thing.

Croatia is a tough opponent… 

Croatia is a very strong national team with great players and they will make it hard for us because they want the ball and they like to play. Whoever has the ball will have more danger and whoever doesn’t will suffer more. I hope we do and we take advantage of it.

Is the key stopping Modric?

Modric is one of the players who is a star. Croatia have other players with a lot of quality and are at a great level. They are very good, but so are we.

Are you calmer now with the goal issue?

We had no doubts it would eventually go in. We scored five goals and if we keep playing like this, many more goals will come and we’ll have our opportunities.

What a connection you have on the left with Jordi Alba.

I’ve played many games with Jordi and although it’s my first season it seems we’ve been playing together for years. I really like him, he has immense quality. We’ve seen everything he’s done with Spain and Barca. It’s a pride to play by his side and it makes it easier for me.

What can you tell me about Luis Enrique?

From the first moment he’s been a magnificent person with me. He’s been great and I’m very grateful for his confidence. 

Against Slovakia the connection you have with Busquets stood out.

Yes, Busi is a spectacle. I love playing with him, how he plays and how he reads the game in every moment. He’s always in the right place, that’s great support. I’ve played all season with him and we have a good relationship off the pitch too. It’s a pride to play with someone who’s done so many things.

Do you consider him a teacher?

I try to focus on everyone, on him in particular because he has a very similar position to mine. The veterans support the youngsters a lot, the same way we bring hope. We have to focus on them and learn from their advice. 

Was it hard without him at the start?

When Busi went there was the doubt about not knowing who else might have Covid. It was hard to train alone. In the games we did well, the difference was with the Slovakia game the ball went in.

How was the isolation? 

It was a tough moment, because you don’t know if tomorrow it will be you having to go home. I was calm. If I had to go home and not be able to enjoy it, it was what had to happen. My objective was to be at the top level for the games.

How do you see Eric Garcia?

I didn’t know him at U21 level but from March with Spain. We have a very good relationship, making jokes. The way he brings the ball out is spectacular. He’ll bring a lot to Barca.

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