Albert Ferrer: “The fans are the most important part of the Club”
INTERVIEWS 04 Mar 2019 - CMP
We interview Albert Ferrer, ex Barça player and current FC Barcelona Legends’ coach, voted by the fans as the best right-back in the Club’s history
Born in Rubí 48 years ago, Albert Ferrer is an example of the bond that exists between the stands and the pitch. When Barça celebrated its centenary, the fans voted him the best right-back in the Club’s history. And to this day, many years after leaving the post, they continue to show him how much he is held in esteem.
“It is true that I feel very well loved. Although I’ve been away for a long time with one thing and another, when you return and see they remember you it’s a really wonderful thing. Maybe because I’m local they have a special regard for me, but it’s something that money can’t buy. When you’re a player, the rhythm is so frantic that you don’t pay so much attention, but after you retire and you realise the importance of the members, the supporters clubs and the contact...".
Why does this distance between players and supporters exist? It’s even more apparent now than when you were playing...
In the end, you do what you can wherever you are. In the past, there were more journalists and supporters on the flights, but this is no longer the case. Being a romantic, I preferred that kind of relationship, although it’s also true that the contact can sometimes distort you.
Your situation is peculiar. For example, you stopped playing and trained three different teams, but you still found time to make history in Cordoba. Why didn’t you choose to pursue this path?
I’ve been offered several opportunities abroad, in Cyprus... but right now I’m back at Barça and it’s wonderful. The Legends project is much more than a few friends playing football, it’s a project through which to help the Club you’ve loved your whole life to get bigger. Being at Barça has always been my dream
You say you enjoy the contact with the people. Have you visited any supporters clubs? Is your contact with members limited to chance meetings at the stadium?
No, that only happens at the stadium every once in a while. I went to the supporters club meeting in Andalusia, and it was incredible. It’s in these places that you realise the fans are the most important part of the Club. The club belongs to us all. Including the people from the supporters clubs: those from further afield who travel to the stadium on coaches, those who can’t because they just live too far away and are lucky if they can make it to Barcelona once a year or every once in a while... In Andalusia, I realised what this passion implied. Although they can’t come, they defend the Club and the team with fervour throughout the whole year; they swim against the tide, sometimes in difficult situations. It goes beyond being just a fan of a football team, and what these people do can be observed in very few other places around the world.
Is that what football’s about? Or is it Barça?
I think it comes down to Barça. A group of people from further afield who treat their visit the same way as they would a holiday to another part of the world: they visit the stadium, take a look at the shop, buy souvenirs... For a culer who is given the opportunity once in a while, this is very important. When you have something at your fingertips, you don’t appreciate it so much.
Wherever you go, on whichever continent, you’ll find people wearing Leo’s or Luis’s shirt. It’s spectacular, and with the Legends it’s something that we see often. In India, for example, 40,000 people came to the stadium, which is unbelievable. Only Barça can do this. We are just representatives.
You seem to be very committed. Emotional, even.
Because it’s quite overwhelming. Remember that, as players, we experienced these things from a distance. The degree of commitment and love people show you, people from other worlds, from other countries and cultures, is remarkable. More than anything it’s surprising when you come across people that have moved away for work. I spent four days in Milan. While walking around the Duomo, we were approached by some Catalans who had spent several years living in Italy. I felt very close to them.
But you’re not just any other player. Earning a place on the first team after joining the Club at age 13, becoming a member of the Dream Team after transferring to Tenerife...but Albert Ferrer’s greatest accomplishment must be the record time in which he recovered after suffering a serious injury at Las Gaunas. You fell in November and were back on your feet by April to play in the Liga, the Champions League and the final of the Barcelona Olympic Games – and win all three.
Those six months became my best year, in a year that I played the least: from November to April, I did nothing except train every day. What I do remember a lot of, however, are those who remained by my side, those who don’t appear in the final photo but without whom it wouldn’t have been possible for me to be there: Doctor Borrell, Doctor Baños, Langa and the great Joan Malgosa… My success largely comes down to those people who don’t appear in the press, but who you come to appreciate much more at the end of your career.
Incidentally, you were not only a great defender but were also wonderful at marking players. How would you have done this when faced with Messi?
Alone there’s nothing you can do. As somebody who’s had to mark the man in many matches, I can tell you that there is nothing you can do. You need to use a specific tactic in order to be able to stop him. To mark him must be a nightmare. You just don’t know how to do it, whether closely or from a distance. And if he’s having a good day it’s impossible. Each player has their own thing: if he’s fast, you give him more space, if he’s agile you stay close, but he has it all. We need to slow down and enjoy him, otherwise when he retires it will be a catastrophe –and it shouldn’t be.