Spanish outlet El Confidencial today brings a very good interview with former footballer Jacinto Elá.
The 37-year-old, who belonged to Southampton for a couple of years at the start of the century, had a very short career due to injuries.
That’s why he has a pretty different view of football, making it clear that not all players have the grace of playing in the first division, or succeeding for top clubs.
He’s wrote the book ‘Fútbol B: Lo que me habría gustado saber cuando era futbolista, y nadie me contó’ (Soccer B: What I would have liked to know when I was a footballer, and nobody told me), and tries to demystify the idea that people have of football players.
In his chat with El Confidencial, he spoke a lot about his arrival at Southampton back in 2001, when he moved to England at the age of 19.
“I had been in Espanyol B for two years and I did not finish making the jump to the first team. In B every year we fought for a promotion and they were very long seasons, strenuous physically and emotionally. So I decided to go to Southampton a bit in a tantrum plan, to show that I could make a preseason with the elders and debut in the Premier.”
Elá has never acted like other footballers, and started by not taking his family along with him.
“Although a lot of players do it, it’s not fair to take your family to another country just so that you get more comfortable, because you cancel them as people. There are families that don’t give the bad news to the player not to distract him. It’s him who works less, just two hours a day, and yet he’s the most protected, because everything revolves around him.”
“It’s like that. Not only happens with the family, but also in the club itself. When I arrived in Southampton, for example, they didn’t even let me find a flat: they had already chosen it for me. I earn €6000 a month and I can’t even go to an estate agent? They also pointed out to me which restaurant the players go to, the pub, where they get tattooed… It’s not that they force you to go to those places, but the message is clear: ‘It’s where we all go, what are you going to do?'”
Asked about Matt Le Tissier, Elá said: “Yes, in fact, he was very kind. That year, Le Tissier was 32 years old and spent a lot of time injured, so we talked a lot and made jokes. Not at each other, but jokes with which to laugh together, which in the end is a way to help you adapt. But most veteran players do not bother to teach young people the codes of football, and it is very important to know them, that’s why I wrote this book.
“Nor do you have an equal relationship with the coach, especially when you are young. They ask you on the one hand to react on the pitch as an adult, to be able to carry out your responsibilities and be the best, but then they give you orders as they would give them to a small child.”
El Confidencial reports that Jacinto Elá now works at a school, helping young students to decide their careers.
“When I ask them what they want to be in life, many respond to me that they want to be footballers. And then I say: ‘Ok. And then, what will you do?’ For that they don’t usually have an answer.”