Last Thursday December 13, I got what I could call an early Christmas gift. Allen put me in touch with some folks with Enterprise Rent-A-Car who were setting up what they call a “Legendary Fan Journey”, and I went with a friend to meet....Robert Pires!
At first I was very nervous about meeting such a great player, I mean, we are talking about a player from that great Arsenal team that was runner-up for the UEFA Champions League in 2006 and had won the Premier League without losing a match in 2004, before spending four years with Villarreal. ( I would have loved to know why he came to Villarreal, I should have asked him that.)
We started the day in a bar right next to the stadium where we started filming a bit before heading to a restaurant where we had lunch and waited for Pires to arrive.
From there we returned to the bar, and then went to Nules to meet the kids (under-11’s) I’m coaching at EF Benicató. It was raining a lot so we weren’t able to do all the stuff we wanted there, also as we arrived late. Still, we managed to have a few words with the kids and sign some stuff for them. They absolutely loved it, even though they didn’t know who he was exactly as they are too young to remember him playing. After a short visit there, we returned to the stadium to cap the video off ahead of the Spartak match.
How is Pires? Very humble, he was also very nice and a fun guy. You spend a bit of time with him and you feel like you have known him a long time. He told me he likes to listen Tupac, as I do, which I didn’t expect. He also has a favorite restaurant in Villarreal, which is called Restaurante El Vasco, and he usually orders a sirloin there, which we were honored to have with him. And he also loved to meet fans as we stopped to sing a bit with some Finnish fans at the bar, and outside the stadium he did some photos for people, also at the bar for the waitresses and he’s in good terms with El Vasco’s owner. Even when we finished the filming, he gave a bit of time to sign us our shirts and to make a quick video for two friends of mine. I think this can be summed up as everybody loves Pires.
After having spend almost all day with him, we were also present for the last part of the journey, watching the win of Villarreal over Spartak Moskva. Our seats were in the VIP hospitality area so we got a great view of the action. The match was good compared to what we are used to this last season. Samu is a wonder, it’s really amazing watching him live, and Gerard Moreno is taller in person. (sorry for the lens flare)
After the match, we headed to the press conference room as we also had the passes to attend there. There, as it’s customarily done, the away team, in this case Spartak went first. One of the Spanish journalists asked why Spartak didn’t enter the bus into the stadium in reverse (as it’s usually done here) and the GM of Spartak (or whatever position he has) answered it instead of the coach, and after that, the journalist still said he doesn’t understand that, and seems the Spartak GM didn’t take it well as he said him that if Villarreal changed their way of entering the bus into the stadium, they wouldn’t be down there.
Later on, questions were now focused into the Russian league, and a Spanish journo told the translator to not bother translating as Spanish media wouldn’t care about the questions and answers!!
Then Luis García came in, where he was asked about the objectives of the team and the upcoming draw of Europa League. He made it very clear he was focused on the next match against Huesca (which turned out 2-2 in a badly played game, as you know). He said he didn’t like to think about draws, and he certainy was not thinking about the upcoming one in Europa League. Whoever Villarreal would draw, they still need to work to win it, and there’s no sure thing once you get to the round of 32.
All in all, a real fun day. I would like to thank everyone for this really fun day: Allen for thinking of me, ,and Enterprise and their crew (Joe, Lewis, Dan, Charlotte, Emma, Eddie, Stuart, Dani) for giving me this opportunity to meet such a football legend and for the memories. And of course, they are invited to come visit us anytime they want!!