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Off-the-radar: An exclusive interview with Roger Riera

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Ex-Barcelona and current Celta Vigo defender Roger Riera talks about his move to Nottingham and La Masia.

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When did you make the decision to pursue football and what motivated you to do so?

I started to play football when I was 4. I always liked football and I really enjoy playing football. That's the best motivation I have to play football.

How did it feel like progressing through the ranks of La Masia?

I started playing football at Gimnàstic Manresa, a football club from my hometown (Manresa). When I was 9 years old I moved to Barça and I spend there 9 seasons. It was like living a dream and every time I progressed a step up I felt amazing and proud.

What do you think La Masia does differently, apart from football philosophy, that sets it apart from other youth academies?

I think that in La Masia you can progress as a footballer, but what's most important, you progress as a person. Thanks to them I keep studying my Business Degree at the university and I think that everyone that has the luck to spend some time in La Masia becomes a better footballer but what's more important, a better person and ready to take new challenges.

You played for Barcelona's Juvenil A side and helped them win the UEFA Youth League - how would you describe that experience and did you feel a future first team opportunity was coming your way?

I think that winning the UYL was one of the best experiences I had at Barça. It's an amazing tournament with great teams, great players and that it's very difficult to win.

After winning it, I never thought of progressing to the first team. Obviously every player at Barça has the dream to play for Barça first team, but at that moment, after Juvenil A (under 19) we all had the dream to progress and play for Barça B. I couldn't reach that step but as I said before I'm very proud of what I did at Barça because I gave my 100%.

What motivated you to move to Nottingham and what were your initial thoughts on the idea of leaving Spain? Was it a difficult decision?

I always liked English football and I'm a big fan of the Premier League. I wanted to live a new experience and I couldn't have had a better chance. Nottingham Forest it's a big club that helped me a lot to keep progressing as a footballer.

Did you feel welcome in Nottingham and how easy or difficult was it for you to adapt?

Every one tried to helped me. It's not easy when you have to move from your country into another culture and language. It was also another football philosophy and tactics but I think I learned English quite quickly and that I adapt myself quite good at Nottingham Forest. As I said that's thanks to Gary Brazil, Jimmy Gilligan and the rest of the people working at the club.

How different are the playing and coaching styles in Spain compared to Nottingham, and how would you describe your stint there?

It's another style of football. More physical and less tactic in my opinion, but at the end of the day it's very competitive like in Spain.

The first season I spend at Forest it was really good. We won our U-21 league and I played a lot of games that helped me to progress.

The second season I started the preseason and the first bit of the season with the first team and I was involved with them but I never had the chance to play with the first team. Then it was when I decided to move on January.

What attracted you to the project in Celta and were you more confident of breaking through into the first team when you joined?

Celta made me an offer and I think it was the right time to join the club. The club is progressing a lot and they are getting better and better every season. I'm playing with Celta B and we are now in the playoff positions to get promoted to the Second division of Spain. It'd be a great achievement for the club.

What are your plans for the future?

I finish my contract at Celta at the end of this season and I haven't decided what will I do next season. In football it's difficult to make plans for the future.

What do you do in your free time?

I'm studying a Business degree at the Spanish University and when I don't have to study I like to spend time with my friends and teammates.



This interview was reproduced from the Hinchas y Jugadores project. You can read it here.