Interview with Infantil A player Georgios Spanoudakis
Most people, especially the youngest of our readers may not know who you are, Georgios. Can you tell me about yourself?
- I am 14 years old (born 1998), 171 cm tall and I play for the U14 team of FC Barcelona, also known as Infantil A. I came to Barcelona and La Masia when I was 10 years old, is half Greek and half German.
Sloppiness in school = less training
How would you describe yourself as a player? As a classic number 10?
- Yes, I can play on all three places the center of the pitch, while here in Barcelona I play in something called "half-left position" [Here in Norway we may call it a narrow edge, in that he plays offensive midfield, but a little skewed - and located to the left]. But it's probably better if other people describe my skills, says Georgios, which is determined that there is a long way to go.
- I am the youngest on the team, so it's a long way to go. All my teammates are very good players, it's a good competition, which helps me to get better. I always look forward to next season. The number of years and seasons I'm here, the better I get. La Masia is my school, I feel very lucky and happy to be here. Barcelona is not just a club. It is more like a big family.
Us Barça interested can clearly see that human values are emphasized within the club. What many people may not know is that if you don't do well at school, you actually get less football training than the others.
- We get up at 7:00 to eat breakfast and after breakfast arrive at the bus at La Masia, which drive us to school. School starts at 08:00 and ends 13:00. If you are not performing in school, your workout gets reduced until you have fixed what you're behind at in school, says Georgios about everyday life at La Masia.
- At 1:45 p.m. we will have lunch at La Masia, and right up to 16:30 we have free time where we can sleep, play something, surf the internet and the like. After that, we have certain hours where we can do homework and learn our school. We train four times a week and training always starts at 19:00. At 21:30 we eat dinner, and we need to be in bed at 23:00. Our league matches are being held in the weekends.
Do you learn English at school?
- Yes, we have English lessons in school as well as an additional English course at La Masia.
Do you learn anything about Catalan values and traditions?
- Not really, just about Catalan cuisine.
Speaking of food, what food you eat at La Masia?
- Fish, chicken and pasta. No soda, just water!
Invited to audition by Benfica and Chelsea
Compared to the majority of Norwegian footballers, you seem to be very determined and focused to work hard towards the goal you want to reach. What is it you are told at La Masia, ie, what are you asked to focus on?
- Here at La Masia they always tell us that if they fail to make us professional football players, they'll sure make us decent human beings to society and the social life outside La Masia. That is why the school comes before football, and the grades are more important than talent. Xavi, Iniesta and other first team players come and visit us often and gives us lots of advice. They are all great role models and we will all be like them.
It is said that one of the main reasons for your success is "rondo" - how often do you do this?
This is another reason for the success, yes, we do it in training very often. Generally speaking, we use very little space and play on small courts on training, and we do not train strength or speed until we are 15. Until then, the focus is on ball control and passing, reveals Spanoudakis, who, like many others, have Xavi as his idol.
- I would like to be like Xavi. He is a fantastic player in addition to being a great human being. To get there it's a long way with a lot of work, luck, both in terms of being fit and being lucky with the chances I get.
Yes, have you met any of the A-team players?
- We meet them very often, because we are located on the same training fields, as well as visit us at La Masia, says the German-Greek. He also tells us that you are focused on as a player, regardless of size or age.
- Whether you are tall or short, 8 or 18 years, they treat you the same professional way as everyone else here. There are good players and great talents of all ages here. When you're 15 and your body is better prepared for it, there is an opportunity to play for the older teams in some games.
Is it true that Chelsea were also interested in you? Why did you choose Barcelona?
- Yes, I was invited to audition for Benfica and Chelsea. I chose Barcelona because I think they work more professionally at a young age than any other club and we have many academy players who becomes professionals at the age of 17 each year.
- Xavi, Iniesta and Bastian Schweinsteiger, answers Georgios Spanoudakis to the questions about who his favorite player is.
He will not tell us who he thinks is the greatest talent of his age, but he does tell us this:
- All my teammates, the older and even the younger players are talented and very good. I am sure that most of them will be professional players one day. I believe that the younger and the sooner you come to Barcelona, the better you will be playing in the end.
How was the first few months at La Masia, compared with other places you have played football?
- The first two months were very difficult, because I had to learn Catalan and Spanish to communicate with my teammates and start going to school. All at La Masia helped me a lot and I had intensive language lessons every day. But football was very different here. I came from Germany where I played for Eintracht Frankfurt, where football was much more powerful than technical, as it is here, says Georgois Spanoudakis.
We thank you for the interview, Georgios. Do you have one last thing you want to say to your readers?
- To all who work hard, regardless of football, to stay humble and always have faith in themselves, anything is possible and you can achieve everything. That's how dreams come true.
This is an interview made by the Norwegian fan site Blaugrana.no. I found it interesting, so I thought I'd translate it and share it with you guys. I guess we all know a lot about La Masia to begin with, but it can never be too much imo xD