"They gave me the Loquito in Argentina, in San Lorenzo, in 1996, because I always tried to liven up the atmosphere in the dressing room," recalls Washington Sebastián Abreu (Minas, Uruguay, 1976). “Last year when I was a player-coach at Boston River the players also called me Loco . It is not disrespectful. It is the nickname that accompanied me throughout my career. In South America, nicknames are part of our culture. ”
Few times did football enlighten a center-forward more selflessly lucid in his conviction to dedicate himself to the game. Otherwise he would not have been able to become the first footballer in history to play professionally in 29 clubs, a Guinness record in the making. Last week he was preparing to debut with his 30th club, Athletic Club, in the Minas Gerais First Division Championship, when he got on the phone from Belo Horizonte .
Question. What is your great motivation?
Answer. See that there are managers and coaches who trust in the same way that I trust my conditions, that is a caress to the soul and it generates a feeling of pride and pleasure in me.
Q. What is the most pleasure for you provides of the soccer routine?
R. Everything. Get up in the morning, have those pains, go into the locker room, listen to the music, the jokes of the teammates, the coaches' talks, warm up because things do not work out, make you happy because the training has gone well for you, the dispute of the day match, concentration … Everything that surrounds the football player's day-to-day life is what gives me pleasure and gives me satisfaction to be able to continue enjoying it. Sometimes young footballers stop doing things thinking that this is going to be for life and when they want to agree they have retired. You meet them and they say to you: “How did I ignore you that time you told me to stay after training, to enjoy the dressing room? Because now that I have retired I miss that in an impressive way. You have to try to empty yourself to the maximum and experience it to the fullest so that you have nothing in store for the day you make the decision to retire
Q. Is pain pleasant?
R. Feel the pleasure of pain because you are playing football. After a strong workout, getting home and sitting down and lying down and starting to feel sore muscles creates pleasure. It resembles masochism. Get up in the morning, take the first steps … you look like Chaplin, you walk all hard because the joints are no longer the same. That generates pleasure. Because you feel alive, because it means that you are doing something for football. I try to enjoy these almost 26 years of career more and more. Down to the smallest detail. Because I know that the day I leave it there will be 30% in my interior, in my soul, in my body, that it will be empty, and neither money, nor cars, nor travel nor money will be able to fill it. food. It will be a void that will remain with me forever because it is the void of the footballer that you will never be able to fill. We can only always keep our heads busy so as not to suffer what the players who retire, who go into depression, sadness, anguish because of longing for something they no longer have,
Q. Have you first made an intellectual construction and then have you lived your career according to that plan?
R. Soccer is not just about training and playing. There are many books that help you anticipate the future. I always went from being on the talk wheels of the greatest players, with the greatest experiences, and listening to them a lot, knowing that one day all that they were having to live would be my turn. Keeping that in mind helps me to do that preparation that the footballer must do because there is a reality. Footballers die twice. The player dies when he retires and leaves something he loves for life, and dies later when God makes the decision to take it. So, in that first transition, having had all that preparation helps you to know that the moment has come and it is essential to be busy so that when you leave football, the following Monday I will catch you with your head active and your body moving knowing that you have an occupation, something to spend energy on.
It resembles masochism. Get up in the morning, take the first steps … you look like Chaplin, you walk all hard because the joints are no longer the same. That generates pleasure. Because you feel alive, because you are doing something for football
Q. You like football so much that in 2003 you signed for Nacional without being paid … How does a professional feel when he plays for free?
R. Playing without charging is the same responsibility, the same commitment, knowing that Nacional is a great team and the only thing that matters is to be champion. You don't always have to ask. Sometimes you just have to give
P. He has had Simeone as a coach at River Plate, he has been Guardiola's teammates at El Dorados, he has played for Lillo at Real Sociedad, he has played two World Cups and four America Cups, and at his age keep competing. Do you feel that you are on an unexplored path?
R. Zé Roberto played until he was 44. Kazuyoshi Miura is playing with 54 at Yokohama Marinos and when you watch the videos he is with good mobility, strong, well physically. That is opening a door. The new training methodology, where technology has led to the total specificity of the functions within the playing field, means that footballers do not suffer so much with injuries, they avoid an articular expense as great as the one they had until the beginning of this century . Genotype studies, which are blood tests that indicate which type of diet is the most correct for each individual, personal trainers, nutritionists, new playing fields … All this has conspired so that the player who dedicates himself to your profession 100% with passion and responsibility can enjoy much more time.
My genotype analysis taught me that eating lettuce is not good for me, for example. But the key is not so much what to eat but when, in relation to what loads and efforts.
Q. What did you learn from your genotype analysis
R. That I, for example, do not favor eating lettuce. The key is not so much what to eat but when, what days of the week, in relation to what loads and efforts
Q. Can football be extinguished?
R. If it was so popular in the 20s and 30s when there was no Possibilities of having no information, imagine now with all the possibility of information and of reaching all places through technology. In that aspect, football is going to continue to strengthen. Another thing is the calendar. The number of matches is undermining quality. You prioritize being very good tactically standing, taking short runs, managing yourself to the maximum. When in doubt, you choose to stay and not make the effort instead of making a showy individual move that could be productive without knowing what the end will be. That is noticeable when they face teams that are busy: clearly it is seen that they group together, shrink backwards to be able to steal and counterattack instead of proposing more in the rival field where it is more difficult to control the ball.
Q. What is it the most decisive thing in the office of striker? Unchecking, control, intuition, shooting …?
A. First: he used the words office. Honestly, as much as there are responsibilities and commitments, for me it is a pleasure to be paid for doing the sport that I love the most. First I enjoy it. Second, and prior to all the characteristics that make the center forward, is the passion and mental conviction of believing a lot in what one can provide. From there comes the sports part that consists in thinking that every training day they have to leave you an apprenticeship. It is not training to accumulate hours
Q. Does enthusiasm help you to break free of the brand more than analysis of the game?
A. Intuition is pure perception. You have it or you don't. He does not train. It is a mental alarm clock that makes you react at a certain point in the game. What you do urgently need as a center-forward are partnerships: either with the striker who plays next to you, with the winger or with the full-backs that come up the bands. So they know what the pass is. Many times the ends and the sides pull the centers as they like to hit it. But the important thing is that they understand how the forward likes to receive that center. From there, these partnerships are generated, such as those that the Pony Ruiz had with Borgetti, Barros-Schellotto with Palermo … Palermo or Borgetti only cared about distracting the defense to stand out knowing that both the Pony and Barros-Schellotto knew where they wanted. the ball. It was a synchronization that gave many results because it ends up making an important difference for that final stretch of the play in which a lot of precision and a lot of force are needed.
Q. What do you think of Haaland and Mbappé?
R. Mbappé gives continuity to Ronaldo Nazario with that three-quarter forward start, with power and dribbling, with completion, or with good resolution at the time of the last pass. And Haaland has characteristics similar to the best Zlatan: powerful, strong, no matter how tall he is, he takes a man off quickly. If a team could hire the two of them, they would always play together because they complement each other perfectly .
Q. Which center forward have you liked the most lately?
R. The ones I enjoy the most are Benzema and Luis Suárez. Because they are scorers who play soccer. There are scorers who are finishers and they only participate for that. And there are scorers who play soccer: they associate, they generate a game and they finish. Watching the distracting movements is a pleasure. Simple things often break lines: playing one or two touches but leaving your partner to have only a chance to score, go down to pivot … That simplicity is the game itself. We confuse the good player with the one who drives the ball, makes three snails, dribbles two and we say: "How beautiful he plays!" It is one thing to play ball and another is to play soccer. Without taking away the natural imprint of the footballer who can face hand in hand, such as Neymar or Ronaldinho, who can be unbalancing.
Today's football calls for association. To the tips, to the centrals, to all. Because there is so much pressure, so much brand, so much dynamics, that you need everyone to participate so that the opponent's defensive blocks are unbalanced
P. Why does Luis Suárez seem younger than last year?
R. That is called mental decompressing the person who is a soccer player. If you see that every week Suárez is not being blamed for any situation, that frees him up to fully enjoy football. That was the campaign that had been generated in Barcelona to destabilize, to be able to lower the economic part. They identified him as the problem of everything together with Messi. And he came to Atlético, where there is a coach who perfectly understands how to treat a footballer of that nature, and letting him know the importance that he is going to have, 100% as a footballer, nothing more.
P. After more than two decades charging for scoring goals. What has changed the most in your way of playing
A. I have gone from being just a play finisher in my early days to also entering the associated game. Now I enjoy more
P. Tips, wingers, defenders … now everyone has to learn to fly?
R. More than being flyers, we have to know how to play football and not just pigeonhole ourselves in a role. Participate in the collective game either with a simple support, with an oriented control and a pass between the lines to the back of the sides. Understand that within that sequence of play that begins with the goalkeeper, one also has to participate in order to be a link so that the team can reach the rival goal to convert. If you do not participate in the associated game today, the team is limited. It happens sometimes when there are ten players generating and the nine waits only to be passed between the lines, but does not see that pass that may be behind the rival five to be able to associate and generate that bond. I learned that over time.
I am very selfish for prioritizing football over family, which is the most important thing. But the family has understood that the pleasure of the family also passes through the pleasure that one can feel playing
P. Why do both the reference points and the centrals that only dominate the area disappear?
R. Today's football asks for it. Because there is so much pressure, so much brand, so much dynamics, that you need everyone to participate so that the defensive blocks of the opposing team can have some imbalance. The centrals now have to have a certain technique to start the start. The same thing is happening to the center forward. You have to be a download option, a pivot, dragging brands. Entering the game to be a productive player for the functioning of the team
Q. What does Simeone demand of the center forward?
R. If you look at Atlético, which is the most South American team in Europe, the nine moves in the strip of the large area. And from there he makes distracting movements, in profile, to be able to pivot. But always respecting a certain mobility based on the operation of the team without taking away the naturalness of the player's movements. He simply guides him with tools that give him options for circulation and game association but not outlined, only as references, so as not to take away the natural imprint he has, because he is playing there for something. There are coaches who outline the footballer a lot about a sector, immobilizing him. I prefer Cholo's style.
Q. Why did Guardiola go for the false nine ?
R. Pep seeks to find a passing lane, always trying to press high after loss. The Cholo is more adapted to the characteristics of the rival. Either idea works. I think what Pep does is for teams where you can hire players to your liking. The Cholo thing is more generalized: applied to teams that do not have those hiring possibilities. Because there is something very real: the soccer player makes the soccer and the player with hierarchy makes the difference.
P. In Boston River he trained himself. How was the experience? How did you compete with your peers if in the end you are the judge who decides the winner?
R. I used common sense: delegate opinions and decision making of how they see the team for certain positions, as was this case. There were times when I didn't line up; I stayed in the bank because I interpreted that other characteristics were needed; And there were games that I played from the beginning, understanding that the characteristics that I had, like nine, were what the team needed at that time. The weeks from Monday to Saturday were fantastic. That transition gave me satisfaction. I already had the title. I started as a coach and player at Santa Tecla [in El Salvador] with the honor of being able to debut with a title. But with the Boston River experience I said: “really what I had in mind when I stop playing is what I want; I want to be a coach. ”
Q. There are professionals who get tired of football before they are 30. Have you ever got tired?
R. Each one lives it and feels it in their own way. Mine is this. I live for and for football. I recognize that I am very selfish with my family, for prioritizing football over family, which is the most important thing. But the family has understood that the pleasure of the family also passes through the pleasure that one may have. You end up infecting the family to want them to continue to see you happy on a playing field.
Q. Is your effort an effort to prolong youth and life?
R. Energies are contagious. The positives and the negatives. Being in a locker room with 17 or 18 year old colleagues with their youth and their momentum, one absorbs all of that to the fullest as they also absorb the experience from you. Nice chemistry is generated. And it is fantastic to see how your children, instead of telling you “Dad we want you to be with us”, they say “Dad we want to continue watching you play”. That is the jackpot. I have four: a 20-year-old, a 17-year-old and the twins of 12. They are the number one fans. They are enjoying more than I am enjoying