x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Rags to riches for textiles Barca's Sergio Busquets

The Barcelona midfielder remains grounded despite being on the cusp of winning yet another major medal at Wembley Stadium.

Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets, left, expects to be at full stretch this evening when he faces Manchester United.
Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets, left, expects to be at full stretch this evening when he faces Manchester United.

Sergio Busquets is from the barrios of Barcelona, and he said he has never forgotten his roots.

"We're from a very humble barrio close to Sabadell [15 miles from Barcelona] and we all still live there," he said. "There are no pretensions where I'm from."

Like many in the former textiles city which was once known as "The Catalan Manchester", young Sergio was a Barca fan.

"Figo was my hero," he said. "Then he joined Madrid. Barca fans hated him for that. It was impossible for him to be a hero any more, but now that I'm a professional, I see things differently. Players can't really control where they go, can't control what a coach thinks of them or if a club wants to sell them."

Unlike anyone else in his barrio, Sergio's dad, Carlos, played for Barca. He was Barca's long-time goalkeeper - usually a reserve - but he played in the 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup final defeat against Manchester United and the 1994 European Cup final defeat against AC Milan.

"My dad's job was different but I loved it," Busquets said. "He would take me into the changing rooms and I remember meeting players like Rivaldo, Figo and Sergi. I see the current players bringing their kids - Dani Alves and Victor Valdes recently - and always make a fuss of them because that was me not so long ago."

Busquets, a midfielder, still sees his dad in training every day as he's Barca's goalkeeping coach. His father instilled him with a set of lasting values, he said.

"He taught me a lot about the mentality of being a good professional," he said.

"But more than that he told me to work hard, listen to your coaches, don't have a big ego. It sounds elementary, but I've seen some really talented kids leave Barca because they wouldn't listen or thought they had become a professional before they did.

If you are not good in a group then you don't have a place at Barca."

Busquets has enjoyed a stellar career to date. Promoted to Barca's first team by Pep Guardiola in 2008, he has won three consecutive league titles and a European Cup with Barca.

He has also a World Cup winner with Spain. Now, 22, he has a second chance to win a Champions League.

"I am proud of being a very young player and in my second final," he said. "My aim is to enjoy it. The manager says it could be our last and so we have to enjoy it."

Busquets thinks today's game will be different from 2009.

"I don't think you can compare the games. They have different players now to then; we do, too," he said. "They have always been a strong side over the last few years; they have always been there. Not having Ronaldo hasn't stopped them getting to the final or going a long way."

He sees United as problematic opponents.

"It's hard to stop them," he said. "Any of United's players can cause you problems - Rooney, Chicharito [Javier Hernandez], Valencia. And Fletcher: I played against him when he was playing for Scotland. I like him a lot but I have to try to get the better of him this time," he said.

Busquets is hoping that Barca start well. "In 2009, it was hard; it took a long time for us to get into the game. The second half was much better," he said. "But it was hard for a long time."

While Barca fans are confident of another victory in the emphatic manner of Rome, Busquets is not so certain.

"I think the final will be decided on small details," he said. "Look at the World Cup final, the Copa del Rey; there tend not to be many goals."

 

sports@thenational.ae