Bojan appears dressed in a shirt that shows a goalpost with holes in the background. At the bottom, you can read 'O. Atton', the name of a famous striker from Roma that, for the first time many years ago, was in the Champions League, Oliver Atton. “I felt like I could relate to with him,” he says. The Linyolan could pass for a tourist who visits the Coluseum in early October, if it weren't for the people asking him for autographs every five feet.
How do you lead your new life?
Every time better, every time I feel more situated and more accustomed to it.
This is your first time living away from home.
Yes. I'm a person that is very 'de la terra' of Catalunya, where I've lived all my life, of Linyola, of Mollerussa, of Bellpuig, of Barcelona..I have not moved from this circle, I am a sensitive person and I notice all these changes more than others. But every time I'm finding it more comfortable because ultimately, the reason I came here, is for football.
How is football?
Thank God I'm doing well, not only because I scored my first goal or because I have more minutes, but because I'm starting to regain a sense of feeling important and returning to be happy with football.
Where does this happiness come from?
From the desire with which I get up in the morning, the desire to go to training, knowing that I will serve, that this will get a result. I know I have to work to play, but I will be rewarded and will have the numbers to play in the weekend, to enjoy the game, to see that I have confidence. It is very unpleasant the see that you don't have it [confidence] because in the end you won't enjoy what you do. Here, I'm recovering that.
Returning to be a footballer.
Yes, that's it.
You left with a press conference in which you showed a side that was not known. Did you prepare for it?
No, no way. Both myself and my surroundings did not want me to go after so many years without a word, a simple statement. Like the socio and culé I am, I wanted to say goodbye and I felt the words to my heart. It was a very emotional press conference for me because everything I saw was real feelings, both bad and good. I wanted to acknowledge the support I've always received from the fans, and to all that surrounds the club because I was, am, and always will be a culé.
In your four years on the first team of Barça, what's left?
With Barça I have lived my life, as is. Barça has taught me since I was very young many things, and not only on a football level: in La Masia, in training, in tournaments. It has taught me how to live. I feel privileged being a culé, and that I had the opportunity to play for the club.
Do you want to erase anything?
Not even the bad moments?
Nothing, because I've always said that it costs a lot for the bad times to pass, but when they do they give you the maturity and strength to handle everything you will find in life.
Have you had time to reflect on your career at Barça?
I am more aware of many things. The life I've led in the 'grassroots' were only success, success, success. There weren't failures, there weren't sad days, we always scored, we always won trophies. It was a bit unreal. And I needed to realize how life is. My mother tells me that what I lived through in 21 years, she lived through in more than 30.
Why did you leave?
Being at Barça is extraordinary. You enjoy being in a historic team, you're important in many moments, you're close to home, to family...everything's extraordinary. But I'm a footballer, and ultimately, a footballer plays football, and I missed that. Especially after everything last year, I saw that I had to take the plunge, knowing that everything was outstanding minus the minutes.
Why did you say that you don't have the same opinion of Guardiola as a socio compared to a player?
Pep Guardiola is the best coach I've ever had and that Barça has. From the results, from the moment he started, in a situation that was not easy, and everything he accomplished in his first year. And because today the team continues to receive praise from the whole world of football. As a player, of course, I can't....If you were playing I would get rid of praise, but much less critical. I'm just saying that I didn't have the opportunities I deserved.
And why do you think you weren't playing?
I've said many times before that I wasn't good: for lack of confidence of playing so little or because I unnecessarily had my head down and thought I was bad at performing. But at other times I thought I could play and the opportunity never came.
When you knew you were leaving Barça to play in Roma, how did you feel?
I remember my parents called me one evening- very happy, very, and told me the Roma deal was done. They were very happy because they wanted to see me happy again. But my mom noticed something odd and asked, “are you not happy?” And I was, but I was sad. It was a double sensation. It opened the door to a big club where I could restore my confidence, bit it came to mind that I spent 12 years at Barça. And I never imagined myself with another shirt. At the end, it's something I digested and thanks to the club and the fans of Roma, I feel better every day.
You left great friends at Camp Nou.
Four years in a locker room are a lot, and the people I lived there with were extraordinary. I see them as peers, as friends, not as footballers. For example, Iniesta, Puyi, Xavi, Victor Valdes, Gerard...I have lived so many things with them!
Do you still keep in touch?
Of course. With Andres I talk a lot, we get along very well. I ask about his child, he asks about my life in Rome. After each match he sends me messages and I do the same.
It's as if he never left...
Obviously when you see them on television, you have the feelings that you have to see them soon. And many people I really miss, and we have a very special affection towards.
Do you have trouble watching the [Barça] games on television?
My feelings for the club are large, it has always been home, I cried at the Camp Nou, I laughed...and when I go the feeling of sadness and nostalgia is very intense. The first thing I though, my first thoughts were, “I won't watch any games because I'll feel so sad...”
But the first game, the Supercopa clasico, I couldn't help it. Neither the second, nor the third. And so today I've seen all the games. It's that I have wanted to see them! First because I'm a fan, second because I want them to win always, third because of my teammates and fourth because I enjoy seeing how they play football.
What do you enjoy more now, watching from a distance or when you were playing with them?
Obviously I enjoy being on the field and being there, but now I still enjoy it a lot. Every time I see a Barça game I feel privileged to have shared so many years there, and to be a part of so many important moments for the team.
The door remains open for you to return. Is it possible you won't?
I've been so happy at Barça, I've been very good and I know that I'll always be very happy, but that has lead me here, to this great club. My goal now is to enjoy football again, to be happy. It depends on me and it depends on football if I return to Barça or if I stay here or wherever I do. In the end, you never know what will happen.
But in your case, the contract says Barça can give you a second chance.
But I can go back and the club can send me anywhere or bench me. If it's bad to return, but I will transfer anywhere.
Roma also has an option to keep you.
Because of this I say that in life all things happen because you need togo through it. And so far everything has gone well and when you think a situation is a bitch, it becomes the best gift of your life.
DISCLAIMER: I was really lazy translating this so sorry if it didn't make much sense (internet wasn't working, couldn't use translate sites to fix words I didn't really understand, etc etc. You can visit the source if something confuses you.
I'm gonna go talk to some food about this