Recoba: "After ten years..."
El Chino on his decade at Inter
APPIANO GENTILE - Uruguayan striker Alvaro Recoba, who turns 31 on Saturday, was interviewed by Sky Italia ahead of Friday morning's training session at the Centro Sportivo Angelo Moratti: Recoba: your best goal in ten years with Inter?
"The one from the halfway line against Empoli."And the least spectacular one?
"Against Bologna in the Coppa Italia. A team-mate headed a corner to me and I scored with my hip."The friendliest team-mate you have had?
"There have been a lot of friendly people. Taribo West was perhaps the friendliest of all. In terms of personal friendships, Matias Almeyda was the one I got on best with, and the one I'm still in contact with."And the team-mate you hit it off with least?
"There have been many players in ten years at Inter, and I have got on well with more or less all of them. There have been a few lads, like Keane, for example, who only spoke English, so we didn't talk that much. But I have never had any problems in personal relationships. The only person I've had a big argument with was Francesco Toldo, and we're almost like brothers now."The strongest player after Recoba?
(smiles) "Ibra has really impressed me a lot because he's so, so strong. Messi of Barcelona is doing well at the moment. And Kakà impressed me in the derby, even though we won. There are three or four very strong players, like Ronaldinho, for example."Can we compare Ibrahimovic to the Ronaldo you played with at Inter?
"No. They are two different players. In those years you couldn't give Ronie a yard of space, or you had to have a five- or six-metre advantage to keep up with him. You have to stay very close to Ibra because he does what he wants when he gets the ball. They are two different champions, and I have had the honour of playing with both of them." A player who joined Inter and turned out to be less strong than expected?
(smiles) "I thought I was very strong, but I haven't played for two years... Jokes aside, each one of us does what he can, and there are those who get more publicity than others, like Beckham for example. And I say this without wanting to take anything away from him. Each person has what he deserves."And the nicest coach?
"Lucescu. I remember he wanted to play me in midfield in front of the defence, and two weeks later I joined Venezia. But I remember him for his likeableness. Zaccheroni wanted to play me in that position too. They tried..."And the most disagreeable coach?
"Perhaps it was Tardelli, maybe because there was talk of my big contract... But not in terms of the personal relationship, because we have seen each other since and there have been no problems. I have had a lot of coaches who when they have seen me again have told me I was the best player they had. Jokingly, I always reply that they could have thought about it before... However, I have never had any big problems with any coach."And the most capable coach?
"The most capable coach is always the one who gets you to win. A coach can be the most loved or the nicest person, but in football he is dismissed if you don't win. I haven't won much at Inter, but what I have won has been with Mancini. The best is always the one who gets you to win. In terms of sentiments, I got on very well with Novellino at Venezia. I had six unforgettable months there and we avoided relegation. Look at Capello now: he's one of the best coaches in the world and he is being criticised because he's not getting results."In your case, Massimo Moratti deserves a separate chapter. Do you agree?
"At this point I have said everything I could say about the president. He has always supported me, even through the most difficult times. I would have liked to have played a bigger part in this season in which we're doing well because I know he wants me to do well. But I have never taken advantage of the situation. If I have been criticised in these ten years, it means he hasn't pushed for me to be played. It has always been the coaches who have decided. Moratti has never put himself in the middle."Moratti wore your Inter shirt under his jacket during the Champions League qualifier against Shakhtar two years ago...
"I want to point out that I have never taken advantage of the situation. People think that if he does this it means Recoba goes to his home every day, or that I'm always calling him, or because I often invite him for dinner. But I have never done these things. I think there's a good relationship because I have never made an issue of money, despite what has been said. On the contrary, when the time came to reduce my salary, I accepted without any problems because I knew it was an important issue for the president and the club in general. The president is a man who understands these things immediately and knows I have never thought about anything else apart from football. I have always considered myself lucky to have come to Inter. I have never taken advantage of this situation."Could this be your last season at Inter?
"Yes, unfortunately I believe so. But it's not as if I'm ending my career because I'm fifty years old... I would have liked to leave by playing and helping the team win, and I haven't succeeded in doing that so far because I have often been injured. I'm not saying now that I will definitely leave, but the time has come to understand what I really want to do. I certainly don't want to stay here and play ten to fifteen matches a year. My goals are different now. Most of all I want to play football. Whether it's for a bigger or smaller club it doesn't matter, but I want to feel happy again. I want to be honest: I'm not saying this would be resolved one hundred percent if I went to another club, but I think that with a bit of continuity I would manage to be fitter."From a physical point of view it has been an unlucky season for you, because you have been decisive each time you have played. But in what is such a good league season for Inter, can you still manage to be happy for what the team is achieving?
"I'm pleased because things are going well for the team. But I'll be honest. I can't say I'm jumping with joy; to be happy I have to play. I repeat: I'm happy for the team because they have a big chance to win, this year like never before. But I can't lie; I can't say it's fine like this and that winning is enough even if I play a minute in each match. It could have been like this at the start, but I can no longer say this now I have been sidelined for so long. But I want to say again that I am very pleased with what the team is managing to win."Could these remaining eleven matches of the championship be a turning point for your season and make you change your mind?
"No, I don't think so. And I say this because the decisive moments of the season have already passed. We have to continue to do well until the end to celebrate the objective we have had since the start. I have been feeling in good shape for ten to fifteen days. I don't have any problems, and I'm at the service of the coach. But I don't think these eleven games will change the situation. I need to play football, not just concentrate on feeling good and staying at Inter because life is good or because you earn well. It's hard to go home on a Saturday or Sunday when you haven't played even a minute or when you have been in the stands. But for now I'm here and I'm proud to have been here for many years, so we will see what happens. I could even make a life choice and return to my country. We will see."March has always been your month. Your birthday is in this month and you have always done well at this time of the year...
"This is true. And I felt good in training today too. Let's hope the coach saw me and plays me on Sunday, and that I can do well. I haven't even scored a goal this year. It's time to score a few in this last bit of the season." What do you think about when you look back at these ten years at Inter?
"Our biggest mistake was in that match against Lazio on 5 May. If we had won that Scudetto, everything would have changed - and I considered myself a protagonist of that season because I had done well, particularly in the last part. Losing in that way was a harsh blow; it took us a while to recover. I'm not saying that championship affected many things, but if we had won that championship certain opinions would have been very different."Do you think Inter have already won this championship?
"Yes, I think so. And I say this without taking anything away from Roma who have had a superb championship. We have done what we needed to do, we have won the decisive matches and dropped very few points along the way, while others have dropped them. We might not have won it yet, but we have a good ninety-five percent chance of winning it. It's true that you never know in football, but all our big games are at home and we have a sixteen-point lead over the second-placed team."Has this season been easy or difficult?
"Victories always help you win. There are always problems, and there always have been in the dressing room. There have been a few small things this year, but they only come out when you haven't won. We're winning now and everything is going well, and it's right like this. Even the small things are going well and the other teams realise this because there have been some matches in which we have fallen behind and then come back as if nothing had happened. We are a very strong team, but the others have suffered a bit psychologically, which perhaps happened to us in previous years. We always score at the right time and we know the result will come sooner or later. With the players we have at Inter, everything is much easier."What went wrong for Inter in the Champions League?
"In Spain there are four teams who play very well: Seville, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia. In general, they play better in Spain than in Italy. Maybe it's because of the pitches or other things. You can see the difference if we compare the last Inter v Milan, which they said was very nice, and the last Real v Barcelona. We faced a team (Valencia) that was playing well and we found it harder. Everything might have changed if we had scored a second goal in the first half, but everything was more difficult with the draw to overturn in the return leg. And in any case they weren't an easy team to face and we were without a very important player in Vieira. We weren't inferior to our opponents; we were punished for our small mistakes. Unfortunately we got a 2-2 draw at home and a 0-0 draw away."Is your goal now to score a goal that decides the Scudetto?
"My team-mates have already scored many decisive goals, like Hernan's at Roma and Cruz' in the derby, for example. I would be content with playing in these final matches. I still feel I'm part of the squad, but I don't feel I can say I am unless I have played at least five matches."