The ex-Espanyol man has been around the block in Spain, enjoyed a productive stint in England at Middlesbrough and now finds a new home at Girona FC. LaLiga chatted to the late-blooming striker who started a World Cup quarterfinal against eventual winners France just seven months ago.
With 33 strikes in 50 starts for the Blanquivermells, Stuani's exploits in front of goal will be key if they are to stay in Spain's top flight. Here are the highlights!
LaLiga: How are you feeling at this stage of the season?
Stuani: Very well. I’m very happy with how things have gone and how 2018 ended. We’re in a new year now. Overall, regarding the season so far, I am very happy. Not only with myself on a personal level, but also about the group, which is what matters most to us. I think we are competing very well.
LaLiga: At 32 years old, are you in the best spell of your career?
Stuani: Yes, perhaps. The numbers reflect that. Both the previous season and this one, I have contributed many goals that have been converted into points for the team. That is the most important thing. I am feeling very well, I think I’m in good shape and I have great confidence.
LaLiga: How have you managed to reach your best at 32?
Stuani: It is all part of many years of hard work, experience and the maturity that one acquires over time. I believe that, above all, it is my mentality of wanting to do things well and of having a commitment to the club -and also of trying to help my team with everything. That leads me to demand a lot from myself in every game.
LaLiga: Could you say that it is the goalscoring run you have dreamed of all your life?
Stuani: I personally hope that what is to come will be even better, but I have to say that at the moment I have very good numbers for goals. I have to continue working to try to grow and be able to continue giving points to the team. I think it's the most important thing for a club like us, that I can score so many goals. It is reflected in the standings, and I have that mentality of continuing to grow -because in football you have no limits and you can always improve.
LaLiga: You have scored 45% of Girona’s goals in the Primera División; what does that tell you?
Stuani: Looking at it like that, it’s incredible, but I’m keeping my feet on the ground knowing that it has been difficult to do what I’ve done. I know how difficult it is to score goals, even if it seems easy or simple. I always have that in my head. I'm very proud of what I’ve done, because it not only gives the team peace of mind, it also gives them confidence. That helps the team and the atmosphere surrounding the club. I think that’s essential for a side playing their first few seasons in LaLiga. I will try to continue scoring more goals, helping the team, and - why not? - improve on last year's numbers.
LaLiga: What is the key to your success?
Stuani: I consider myself a team player. I never give up on a ball. I always try to be in the right place at the right time in order to score goals. Inside the area, everything that happens presents a chance for me to score. I’ve always tried to be ready so that, when the chance comes, I can be in the right place to score. Now I also have a little experience. Over time you improve many things, but I think the mentality of wanting and thinking that you can do it is also very important.
LaLiga: Do you think you can better your return of 21 goals in LaLiga from last season?
Stuani: Yes. I think it can be achieved, but it will be very difficult. At the beginning of the season, maybe few people would have bet that I would score as many goals, but I personally believe it possible and I will fight to match or exceed that number.
LaLiga: How do you see the team this season?
Stuani: I think we’re doing well. We are competing in every match. I think that is key for us, that we are pushing to be able to score right up until the 93rd or 95th minute. We’ve done that in all the matches we have played I think that it is fundamental for us. I think we are in a good position in the table, but we can’t relax, because there are many teams that are very close in the table. It is going to be a very close season from now until the end, but I think we are preparing very well and we are facing the matches with great enthusiasm, eager to achieve our goal.
LaLiga: What is the goal for Girona this season?
Stuani: To stay up.
LaLiga: Can you not still aspire to something bigger?
Stuani: Not at the moment. We aw realistic. It doesn’t matter how many people want us to aim higher or think otherwise, they are mistaken. I think e have to be realistic and understand that what we are doing is very difficult. I think we should try to achieve safety as soon as possible, which is the main objective. From there, we will have time to focus on something else.
LaLiga: What do you think the key to Girona’s play is?
Stuani: I think we have a way of playing that is no longer a surprise to anyone. Last year maybe it was, but this year we have been repeating the formation and it isn’t a surprise for the other teams. We have an identity and we try to reflect it in every match, both home and away. I think one of the keys is the conviction that the team have about continuing to grow. In the end, we know that the season is long, that no matter how well we start we have to make it last. I see a very committed team with a desire to grow, and I like that a lot.
LaLiga: What has Eusebio contributed? What is he like as a coach?
Stuani: He’s good. He is a coach who has experience and who knows the team. I think he has tried to improve our play. Undoubtedly, last year we had a very good season playing the way we did, and the team are comfortable like that. He adds his touch, trying to make us feel better and maybe get a better performance from each player, even though this season we have had some big injuries in the team. I think the team have competed in every game, which is very important. We are fortunate to have a group and a coaching staff that are ready to achieve their goal.
LaLiga: What do you think about LaLiga this season?
Stuani: It’s been strange. In my time it’s never been so close, and I think it has been proven that any team can beat any other. In the midtable spots everything is very tight, there is not much of a gap between the clubs. Maybe Barça have escaped a bit at the top, but from here to the end of the season it will be very difficult to get three points from every game. I think that gives a boost to LaLiga in terms of competitiveness. Any team, if you aren’t on form, can come along and beat you. That gives you a boost.
LaLiga: In LaLiga there have been a lot of Uruguayan goalscorers. Tell me about your fellow Uruguayans in LaLiga.
Stuani: The Uruguayan flag is a common sight here, and not just in the stadiums. I think we are lucky to have players from our country who are performing at a very high level. We have goalscorers like Luis [Suarez] or Maxi [Gomez], and it’s not only the strikers; in all areas of the pitch, we have good Uruguayan players. As a Uruguayan, I am proud to be part of LaLiga and to see compatriots who are doing very well.
LaLiga: Is it true that the best is yet to come?
Stuani: You never know, but I do think that the best is yet to come. It’s what I always say. Keeping that in mind forces me to want to improve and also contribute everything that I can to the team. It is always good to set goals and dream about big things. That keeps you alive, attentive and eager to compete.
LaLiga: What would Cristhian Stuani ask for in his future?
Stuani: I would ask for the future of the club to continue growing. I always say that the group’s objectives come before personal ones, although obviously, each player has his own dreams. But I would ask that the club stay up and become more consolidated in LaLiga Santander.
Stuani & Girona will be in action this Sunday as they travel to European Champions Real Madrid in a LaLiga clash.