INTERVIEW: MAXI GOMEZ (VALENCIA CF)
Q: You came to Spain at the age of 20. What did that move mean to a kid from Paysandu?
A: Well, the truth is I never expected it. I think it's very hard for a player from Uruguay to come and play football in Spain. I think that Uruguayan football is a lot different to Spanish football. And, well, when I had the chance to come to Celta, I was very grateful to Celta because they were the ones who opened the doors for me. I was very happy and thank God everything worked out and I was able to come here.
Q: What do you remember about that time? How did that call come about? To think that at just 20 years of age you could move to LaLiga.
A: Well, the truth is that it was the last match we played with Defensor Sporting away to Fenix. There was already talk about Celta on social media, but I was focused on the match, which was like a cup final for us, and thank God we managed to win it and for Defensor Sporting to come out champions, which is no mean feat because the big teams are Nacional and Peñarol, but thank God everything worked out well. After the game I had a meeting with a Celta director, Felipe Miñambres, and thank God everything worked out with Celta and the truth is I'm very happy.
Q: What did making that leap to LaLiga mean to you?
A: Well, to be honest, it was a massive leap. I think that coming to play in Spain opens lots of doors. I had a very good six months in which I managed to contribute a lot to Celta, and after that I got the call from the Uruguayan national team, which was a dream of mine since I was a boy. The truth is I was really happy to be able to experience all that.
Q: How do you view those two years in Vigo on a personal level and in terms of scoring goals?
A: Well, to be honest, the first year was fantastic. I think I scored quite a lot of goals in the second year as well, but not as many as the first. I think that, like I said, coming from the Uruguayan league and being able to score all those goals in the Spanish league was really something special. I think it came up on Twitter that I beat a number of very good players in debuting with the most goals in LaLiga, so I'm very happy and very grateful to Celta, who were the ones who opened the doors for me.
Q: Which goal do you remember most fondly from your time at Celta?
A: The truth is I remember all of them very well, but I'd have to go with the goals I scored against the big teams. Scoring against Real Madrid and Barcelona is not something you do every day. I'd only scored against those teams playing video games with friends who played with teams like Manchester City or teams like that and I scored against Real Madrid and Barcelona and, well, for that dream to come true and to be able to score goals against the big sides really is something special.
Q: Can you describe them for us, tell us what those goals were like? Can you relive them for us?
A: Against Real Madrid it was a cross from Wass, with an intricate move where we moved the ball out wide and he crossed it in for me, I got my head on it and thank God I managed to put it inside the near post. To be honest, it was a wonderful goal. And against Barcelona I made it 2-2 at the Camp Nou, and the truth is that drawing against Barcelona on their own turf is not easy. The goal was a move from Iago Aspas, who really is a fantastic player. He takes on Umtiti, who pulls up with a hamstring problem, Aspas goes it alone and cuts it back to me and I put it in at the far post. It was also a really nice goal and I'm very grateful.
Q: What was it like to share a dressing room with Iago Aspas? What stands out about him?
A: The truth is he's a really good guy in every way. A very nice guy, a very good player, who I admire a lot because of the way he works and trains. What he transmits on the pitch is something special and, well, thank God I was able to share lots of good things with him.
Q: You were talking about the cross from Daniel Wass. If I'm not mistaken, he gave you five assists that season. Now the two of you are back together at Valencia. How are you enjoying this new stage and also that continuity?
A: To be honest, that year when I managed to score lots of goals, lots of them were from Daniel Wass assists. He's a fantastic player who puts in some perfect crosses so you can get into the box, move and shoot. And now, well, we're here living the dream together. Hopefully, we can achieve something great together and I'm very happy I can be here with him and all of my teammates.
Q: What has coming to Valencia been like? What are your aspirations?
A: The truth is that it's something special coming to a club as big as Valencia. With the fans, with the people, with the squad and with the atmosphere here, there's nothing like it and for my part, I'll try to give my all for the group. That's the main thing. To be able to score lots of goals, to compete, to have that fighting spirit we Uruguayans have and show it out on the pitch, give my all and use all my strength and to be able to score lots of goals. The truth is I'm very happy and hopefully all that comes to pass.
Q: Have you set yourself a goal target?
A: No, to be honest, I try not to set myself a target for the number of goals. I want to score in every game because when I go home without scoring, I'm in a bad mood. But hopefully the goals will flow and I'll be able to contribute to the group, which is the what matters.
Q: What qualities can Maxi Gomez bring to Valencia?
A: Well, the truth is that I'm a player who likes to get into the box a lot. In the final third, I like to move about a lot and be able to score lots of goals. I'm a player who works on that a lot. Trying to get into the box, good movement and trying to put every ball I get on the end of into the net, which is the main thing.
Q: Valencia is coming off the back of a very good season. Winning the Cup, qualifying for the Champions League. In terms of titles, what are your hopes for this year?
A: The truth is that Valencia has a lot of cups ahead of them. We're playing in the Champions League. I always dreamed of playing in the Champions League. I only ever did in video games, and now being able to live this dream of being able to play in the Champions League, and being able to give my all for the squad is the main thing and being able to do it in every game is the best of all.
Q: What are your objectives in LaLiga?
A: The truth is I'm trying to train one day at a time, trying to do my very best in the matches on the weekends, trying to score goals. I feel very much at home now here in Valencia and hopefully, I'll start scoring goals, I'll start helping the team, which is something special and something I aspire to.
Q: Those goals will come with game time, won't they? As you gain confidence and understand what the coach wants from you.
A: Yes, sure. To be honest, it's very hard to go from Celta's football to Valencia’s football. I think Valencia play a faster, more counterattacking game and you need to adapt. And, well, any ball I get on the end of, I need to put it away, which is the main thing.
Q: As a group, what are Valencia's aspirations this season?
A: Well, the truth is we're very happy. We're working as a group to compete in all four competitions that Valencia is involved in. Taking it step by step, not getting carried away thinking about winning the Champions League or the title. We'd rather take it step by step. Every weekend is like a cup final, as I said earlier, and we're going to go out and try to win them any way we can.
Follow Maxi Gomez and Valencia vs Alaves this weekend live on Futaa!