Roque Mesa, during the match against Sevilla.Quality Sport Images / GETTY IMAGEN
When he was barely half a meter tall, he started kicking the ball. And since then there was not a day in which Roque Mesa (Las Palmas; 31 years old) did not play a game in the La Garita neighborhood, either on the beach or in the square, either in the park or at school. “The street gives you that bit of cheating, of looking for life. And the bad thing is that that mischief is being lost. It's difficult to watch football before, ”laments the Valladolid midfielder, who gets tired of telling his children to leave the machine in exchange for a ball. With a slow speech and that unfading Canarian accent, Roque attends EL PAÍS before taking on Barcelona this Monday (9:00 p.m., Movistar LaLiga).
Question. Is it true that at 18 you almost lost the illusion to play soccer?
Answer. Yes. When I finished juniors I was left without a team because a representative told me that I had another destiny for me that was not Levante, where I was, and in the end it was neither one nor the other. I thought about dropping out and continuing my studies in psychology, but my parents told me to combine it with football because they knew what I liked. I listened to them and I can only thank them because if you look for my name on the Internet, you can see that I have been in Third, Second B… It was difficult for me to get there, but once I did, I consolidated and I hope to continue for many years.
Q. Everything took color And how did he meet Setién at Las Palmas?
A. Yes, because the coach understands football wonderfully and he understood that this team had football and had to play in an associative way. And there was a football that dazzled all of Spain and part of Europe. And I also because I like to have the ball between my feet, make walls, play short, not lose it…
P. That's what they say for Valladolid, that when you play the team increases possession .
R. That's what I try. I want my teammates to partner with me and let's try to play. They may be more used to another football, but I try to take a break to try to control the games. I like to read the situations and depending on what we need, I change the role in the field. I move further back if the team needs to get the ball out or I command the lines further up the pressure
Q. To do that, I imagine you have the absolute confidence of the coach, right?
R. He knows me and knows what I can do give. He also knows that I have personality and that I like to take the initiative, that our team is the protagonist.
"Of course I like to defend, but I don't like to do it in my area"
Q. Do you like being the leader?
A. If a leader is to want the ball and for the team to play at my pace, then yes, I like to be a leader. But for that to work there have to be results and my teammates have seen that when we exert the highest pressure at certain times it is because it guarantees us to have more ball.
Q. But do you like to defend?
A. Of course I like it , but not in my area but much later. Or with the ball between the feet as well … That is the way I understand football and I like to play it.
P. Now that is more complicated because the teams are becoming more physical .
R. Yes, it is like that and that. leads to increasingly difficult to find imaginative players. They are square teams. At Las Palmas, for example, we were happy in the game and we did not think about winning or losing, but about going out on the pitch, enjoying ourselves as dwarfs and knowing that victory was a consequence of our game. We wanted the ball to have fun and win.
"If the leader is to want the ball and for the team to play at my pace, then I am"
Q. Maybe that was what happened to you later at Swansea , when you found yourself in a team with little affection for the ball?
R. Yes. I went with the idea that it was a team that played from below and that's how it happened to me. they had sold. Also, by history, it was a team with a lot of touch [since the arrival of Roberto Martínez, now Belgian coach]. But it was the opposite because with coach Paul Clement they played the ball, second plays, very direct … And that was not my football, I did not adapt to that. So when Sevilla called me, six months later, I came back
P. Then he was loaned to Leganés and they stayed one goal away from salvation … How many times did you remember the rule that allowed the transfer of Braithwaite to Barcelona out of time due to Luis Suárez's injury?
A. That rule weakens certain teams, almost always the weak ones, and this time it was our turn. It's screwed up. But we are only one goal away from achieving it .
Q. Does playing without an audience also weaken?
R. Of course. The field factor has been lost as there are no hobbies that tighten. Sevilla, with their fans, makes the games at Pizjuán very long. Like at the Camp Nou and like at the Bernabéu. I sincerely hope that this situation will be solved as soon as possible because the real football has been lost, that nervousness in the stomach before jumping into a full field and thinking: 'Let's see what I find today'
Q. Well, you will find yourself with Messi's Barça, whom he said was the best player in the world while pointing to Busquets as the referential midfielder. Does he keep it?
R. Leo is the different player, the most talented footballer that I have been able to face and see. There is no one like him. And Busquets is a top midfielder, for me together with Xavi and Iniesta they formed the best center in the field.
Q. And did you see your president play?
R. Bufff! The best striker of all time. There has been no other like him. And I'm not doing the ball, huh? I say what I think. Although when Ronaldo comes here, we talk about everything except football, which he doesn't like too much.
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