Earlier on Monday, Ole in Argentina published a very lengthy interview with Sergio AGÜERO and we have the full translation here on Mundo Albiceleste.
As mentioned, it was a very long interview and frankly, one we thought was worth translating. Sergio AGÜERO discusses the idea of “MESSI’s friends” being in the National Team. The three finals lost, the psychological impact that has and much, much more.
Full translation was done by myself and by Juli of the Mundo Albiceleste staff. We hope you enjoy the translation.
When you hear that people are tired of all of MESSI’s friends playing on the National Team, how do you feel?
I don’t have any problem. I don’t read much, but I do receive the commentaries…as a consequence the environment suffers, the ones you have at your side. In my case, what’s left is to demonstrate on the field. Everyone has their own opinion, and can say what they want, I can’t change that.”
But the senior team has earned respect. When you guys are undervalued by them saying those things, doesn’t it bother you guys?
“Let’s see… It hurts because one always wants to give their best. Even more for the National Team. But, yes, what was said did hurt, but I can’t do anything about that. I would never confront that because I’m not like that.”
You wouldn’t come out and answer to that.
“Never. Of my private life for example, they’ve spoken about everything. And I have never come out and confronted someone because it’s not my style. I also understand that top coaches or journalists can say whatever they want. They are in their rights to give their opinions about football. Only when they go outside of sports matters it bothers us. You guys are giving your opinions all day, I’m playing all day. It’s kinda similar, every person has their job.”
Does nonconformity exist? MESSI is the maximum goal scorer for the National Team, you and HIGUAIN are also up there in the ranking. Nevertheless, you guys are always judged. Why?
“One does not know why… I speak about it with my friends: the people here are fanatics, but they aren’t so much for the National Team, but they are for their local clubs. So if I am a River supporter and I go to the stadium to see the National Team, the River players If they play well or poorly, I will always back them…This happens with every club team and it happens in other countries like in Chile or Colombia.”
In your case, a Racing fan will not support you that much, for example…
“Exactly. The fan that goes to see the senior team with a player from their club team is a plus for them to support them. That is what happens. For example Pipa (HIGUAIN) that has a past history with River, 80% of Boca fans probably insult him. And the opposite would happen with a Boca player and the River fanatics… The National Team fan perhaps is seen more during competitions like the World Cup or the Copa America.”
And when you lose…
“When we lose, bye bye…you can see that, it’s reality. I see it with my friends in anything, it’s the way it is… Look at Germany: they went for so long without reaching a final, they would always make it to the quarter finals, semi-finals, and we would get very minimal respect here. They don’t have that constant pressure over there, they play freely, and of all the times they tried to reach a goal, they became champions.”
Gerardo MARTINO once said that what happened with Germany cannot be repeated in Argentina…
“I feel like we’re in a similar process. We got to a final and then another one… With this, we’ll keep climbing and going up a bit more. The Argentinian wants to win, obviously, and now we’re thinking about the qualification for the World Cup. We’ll try our best. We only have a few years left with the National Team, after that, other players come in. We’re leaving for better players that are younger and fighting for your position. One day we’ll be thinking “Look at you, I was once there”. But as the saying goes, “I tried”.
Do you feel in debt?
“I’ll obviously have the World Cup… Because it’s a World Cup. At the time, I wasn’t in good shape. I was coming back from four injuries that year and at the end, I ended up getting injured in the third match (of the World Cup against Nigeria). Obviously I was happy because we had reached a final but I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be at as a footballer: I always wanted to prove it, and even more so in a World Cup. I’ll always say that I am indebted for that.”
And after that came the Copa America’s:
“Of course, the first one was the following year. In Chile, I don’t think my performances were “uhhh” but the team just like myself, were at a far better level. We were very upset when we missed the chance and after that we still had that chip for the next Copa… And that’s that. We have to have in mind the new project BAUZA has, I played my first match against Peru and now we have to do things right against Paraguay. Whether the goal comes or not, the idea is to give your best. Obviously I’m there to also get into the top goalscorers chart. One day my name will be there. It’s the time, just like to enjoy the time I have left with the National Team.”
You’re left with the feeling of having lost the last Copa America which was very tough, maybe even more so due to the amount of losses. MESSI said he didn’t know if he would come back, HIGUAIN said something similar, DI MARIA spoke about going to a psychologist…
“I remember that night. I saw Leo in very bad shape in the locker room. And after that, there were a few who thought about whether they were going to come back… Just that it was MESSI who said what he said. I never thought he would be the one to say that. Obviously I had said it in a better way and Leo took it. After that, he said “What, what did you say?”
What did you think in that moment, listening to Leo after the final?
“What I was thinking after the match was: “Now new players will come in, fresh, young players and that’s it.” But after that I said “As I still think about the National Team, I have to continue.” All of that was going through my mind, but I believe the best psychologist is to remember what you wanted when you were a kid.”
Today, do you play with the pressure of having lost those finals? Does that still weigh in your mind? Some say that the National Team needs some new names because you guys are carrying that burden.
“Yes and I think “Why do they want that?” We found ourselves in three finals… And they want new faces? Let’s be realistic: Had we won one or two of those finals, no one would be questioning anything. And since it didn’t happen… They think about rotating and bringing in new players.”
Do you understand that?
“We did our best and we got to three finals but the fans want us to lift something. But think about it: Since 1993, millions of world class players have passed through the National Team and they didn’t get to a final. Many tried and I don’t even think they reached semi-finals. Not many can reach three consecutive finals. But at times, no one knows why, but the pressure is there and we felt it more than ever in the last two Copa America finals.”
Last time you mentioned that something happened. Were you talking about the pressure?
“Yes. You feel like you have to do your best because it’s a final and it makes you do something else. We were playing very well and then in the finals, we played a different way, differently than what we were playing before. I think that happened to us because we think we have to do everything well because we absolutely have to win and that makes us do everything badly.”
And how do you fix that?
“I don’t know. It’s fucked up because you try not to think about it but you do… You don’t think about it until you get to the pitch. There you start to see the people and you start to fail: “It’s a final, you have to do your best…” “It’s messed up because after those three finals, we didn’t even score a goal. And that’s rare because we always score goals. Obviously who’s to blame? The ones who play. And no one was able to score. There’s four or five forwards in every tournament. No one was able to score. No one.”
The player that was most blamed for that was HIGUAIN?
“Yes. They were key moments because had we won, we wouldn’t be here talking about this. But just as much, again in the United States the chance fell to him and the truth is that people don’t forget those things. And it will always be like that, with him, with that… They’ll also say that the other guy couldn’t either and maybe the other guy could have scored… But we’re like that, very demanding. I’ll go watch Independiente and the people want to win…”
Do you feel that people are cruel in that regard? As an example, all the memes which surfaced.
“It’s what I’ve said. At the time, it hurts. Do they not know that we want to do our best? They don’t understand that. And me, on my part, I can’t go one by one and answer everyone individually and tell them that they are wrong because the fans are the first ones to call you a wimp or a “pecho frio” (someone who doesn’t “feel” the shirt of the National Team). It’s how they are because Argentine’s are like that, they want to win.”
“It upsets me. But the best thing to do is to win. It’s for that reason that we are here, it’s for that reason that BAUZA still believes in this group and in us, for our part in all of this, that we can still achieve and win something with the National Team. Although some say that I’m a dog, that I’m horrible, no one will take away my dream of wanting to win something.”
And if that doesn’t happen? Do you think with time people will value you more?
“I think so. I think that as the years pass by and we’re not here anymore, people will look back and remember the moments. But the reality of today is they’ll say “Change it all”. Others want the opposite. But when the majority of us aren’t here anymore, they’ll remember us, just like we remember ZANETTI or CRESPO or SAVIOLA or RIQUELME or TEVEZ… When we’re not here, they’ll notice it. They’ll miss us once we’re gone.”
In your case or also in DI MARIA’s case, there’s also the situation of injuries. Or that they can’t show their form with the National Team as they do with their clubs.
“But it’s not easy. One is used to playing at his club where he knows his team mates and you’re with them everyday. At City, I play 60 games a year and when I come to the National Team, I play two or three. It’s also a reason that people who don’t watch the 60 games with City, they don’t realize that I don’t play well in all of them. It’s tough to analyze it all.”
“Because here we have new team mates. One always wants to do his best but the truth is that if you get continuity (of the same team mates), which was the case at the Copa America or the World Cup, it’s different.”
And now in the middle of the qualifiers, there’s a change of coach
“BAUZA has a different system, which was the case with SABELLA, with BATISTA, with Tata.. They all had different ideas and you have to adapt. It’s a question of time but the qualifiers, at times, you have to win playing any way. The goal is to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.”
And you, how do you see yourself in all of this?
“I have good matches, bad matches. But I also dream that things will go well, for the team and for myself. Imagine that I’m not doing well yet I’m fourth all time in the goal scoring list of the National Team… You always want more. For now, I have time and I have to continue to do my best, whether it’s scoring goals or not. Argentina asks a lot and obviously I understand that. And we all want to do well.”
When was the last time you played a match with the National Team and you said “Physically, I’m 100%”?
*Thinks a little bit* The best, when I was good good, I think was the Copa America in Chile. There, I felt very good and Tata backed me because I played from the start against Paraguay and luckily I did well. The team was doing well too. Until we reached the final…”
And what happened?
“In a final, you always want to do your best and after the 60′ or 70’th minute, the coach made the change (and took him off). At that Copa, I was really good, I wanted to win but it just didn’t happen. Yes, we reached a final. And after that in the United States I wanted to play but Tata backed HIGUAIN. There, not only for me but for anyone, it’s not easy to always get substituted in the second half when a team is physically used to the rhythm of the match. Obviously in the first match it didn’t show but after the third or fourth, you feel it because you play 20 minutes and you feel like physically you’re not up to it yet.”
But you played enough in the final and still weren’t able to impose yourself
“I played the last 30 minutes plus the 30 minutes of extra time. Physically, I was well but obviously the tiredness is felt more in a final… The match against the United States, I didn’t get any minutes because of the injuries to LAVEZZI and ROJO and listen, that week, I didn’t play and that weighs on you. I’m used to playing every three days and physically, I’m better like that.”
Now, once again you have a muscle problem. Is it the same one which kept you out of the two qualifiers last time?
“No, no. This injury hit me while I was at City in the match against Celtic in the Champions League. It was hard, it rained a lot, the grass was long and muddy and then it hit me. I recovered pretty well in two days and after that I played against Tottenham and then traveled to join the National Team.”
“Sometimes travelling a lot doesn’t help. The layovers, the changing of schedules and time… But I’m doing really well. I played against Peru and I’m available and I’m there to give my best. When it comes to the National Team, I always want to be there but last time, I was injured for the match against Ecuador. Sometimes you think “Why don’t I stop?” Because after that I’ll be out for a month and a half and I lose six or seven matches at City. But when you’re called-up to the National Team, you always want to play. It’s the way it is.”
You’re ready for the match against Paraguay?
“I’m much better. After the match against Peru, I had two days to recover and today I played some football. I’m doing really well. The pain I had prior to the match against Peru is luckily gone.”
ROMERO told Ole that he’s adapting to BAUZA’s style. How do you see it?
“Good, good. I first spoke to him last month, said we would get to know each other here, I had a knock on my ankle and obviously City didn’t let me come. I always want to be here.”
And how was the face to face meeting with him?
“We spoke, it went well.’
A lot has changed?
“With Tata I played as a number 9 and he told me that it didn’t matter how many touches of the ball I get, that he wants me up front, that the key was to take advantage of the chances when I would get them. But now with the National Team, I’m not the number 9 anymore.”
You play different than at City
“You know what happened? That at City, I’m now a 9! Haha! At Independiente, I always played with a forward, at City, prior to GUARDIOLA coming in, I played with a forward as well.”
And what does Pep ask of you as a center forward?
“He wants me as a 9 but for now, he’s given me a lot of freedom as well. He asks that I move around everywhere in the attack. In contrast, Tata (MARTINO) wanted me between the two central defenders to generate more space for Leo (MESSI), DI MARIA and to PASTORE or BANEGA. With Pep, it’s different.”
And what about Pep?
“He’s very demanding in everything. Which is good. The good thing is that I’m used to it and now, intuitively, I go and pressure the central defender because that’s what he asks of me. Here with the National Team, I did that against Peru and I realized that I left the middle unprotected. I’m used to doing that and in that case, HIGUAIN had to do it. At times on the pitch, I’ll go to pressure and I forget that! Haha!
And who reminds you of that?
“Luckily I have MASCHERANO, who’s crazy and always screaming. We’re still adapting.”
Do you like to play behind the number 9?
“Yes, yes. Against Peru for example, we played a 4-1-4-1 and the only winger they had tried to make sure that I wouldn’t receive the ball much. In the first half, I got a few touches of the ball. But in the second half, I had to be substituted off due to muscle discomfort. Obviously we want to win but in the qualifiers, you also have to remember not to lose.
As stated at the very start, AGÜERO discussed a lot. For me, he comes off as more mature in this interview compared to some of the previous ones he has done throughout the years.
We hope you enjoyed the translation!