Exclusive Interview with Tero’s Former Real Betis Legend
www.thaileaguefootball.com Meets Tero’s Arzu
Although Real Betis are less famous than Real Madrid and Barcelona, you had a 56,000 capacity stadium and last year your average home attendance was 41,000. How would you describe the Betis fans?
Real Betis Fans are the biggest asset the club has. They go to every game. It doesn’t matter if its home or away, they follow the team and support us. It’s a very strong bond that they have with the team
Betis finished thirteenth last season and are currently in sixth. Which position do you feel they should achieve this year?
This season the club has made some very interesting signings but I see the team is quite young. Although it is not going to be easy to get into European competitions I think they will have no problem to stay in la Liga
What made the 2004 – 5 season, when you finished fourth, so special?
I think there were a lot of things that came together in that season. We were very strong in our home games. We had excellent players and one of the most important things was that almost the same players kept playing every week. That gives a lot of stability and strength to the team
That season Ricardo Oliveira scored 21 goals for you, beating Ronaldo, Torres and Villa. What made him such a good finisher?
In my opinion you need very good players behind the striker for him to do an excellent season like he did. That year we were a very strong team and we played fantastic on the counter-attack because we had very fast players. That helped Oliveira score his goals.
We hear stories of terrible financial problems in many Spanish clubs. Was this bad situation part of your reason to come to Thailand instead of staying with Gimnastic?
My contract with Gimnastic ended and the situation for the Spanish club wasn’t very good. Then the opportunity to play in Thailand came and I took it. I am really happy with the decision I mad
How bad are the finances for the smaller clubs in Spain?
The situation in Spain is really bad because the TV rights distribution is not fair. There are also many clubs that owe lots of money to the tax office. Spain needs a lot of time to come back to a regular financial situation, and one of the ways is to lower the players salaries.
Who was the best player you ever played with and against?
The player that I liked most as a team mate is Joaquin and as a rival Messi.
Who was the finest captain you played for? What qualities did he have that made him special?
The best Captains that I had were Merino and Juanito. They are very low profile people and the were always looking out for their teammates.
Was the goal you scored in 2006 against Atletico Madrid your favourite goal as a Betis player? Tell us about the goal you scored against Liverpool.
My favourite goal was the one I scored against Valencia in the 2002/2003. Regarding the goal against Liverpool it is very special for me because that was the first goal of Real Betis in the Champions League competition
In 2005 – 6 you played eight games in the Champions League and UEFA Cup.What were the highlights of that campaign (as well as your goal against Liverpool!)
My best memories are hearing the Champions League anthem in the Real Betis Stadium, my goal against Liverpool and the game we won against Jose Mourinhos’ Chelsea who at that time were the strongest team in Europe. UEFA Champions League is the most beautiful competition I have ever played.
How did you first find out about BEC Tero?
First time I heard about BEC Tero was because my agent Jorge Llagostera told me about a possible contract here. Also I knew that an ex teammate Jose Franco “Regino” was playing in Thailand. Once I got to Bangkok the coach Andrew Ord sold the project to me and gave me a lot of confidence by explaining how he wanted me to help the team.
What were your first impressions after you finished your first training session?
I was shocked by the humidity in Bangkok and I needed a bit of time to adapt. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of coaching at training and individual levels of the players. People in Europe will be impressed about the Thai level. In some cases it’s not very far away from some European Leagues
What are the main differences between Spanish and Thai approaches to training, nutrition and how players are treated by fans?
In Spain clubs train harder at the beginning of the week and lighter towards the end when the game gets closer. In Thailand the training is more constant. Regarding nutrition it is very similar. The main difference is that food is more spicy. I like very much the way the Thai fans love football. All the respect they have for the players. That makes the player feel very confident
How has the heat here changed the way you train, eat and rest?
Now with all the rain we have changed the training to earlier in the day to be able to train in better conditions.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss my family and the Spanish food. Although I love the Thai food I still miss Jamon Serrano and Queso Manchego.
As a famous Betis player you will have been a celebrity in your country. How has it been as someone not so famous here?
For me is not important to be a celebrity. I only care about my family having a good experience in Thailand. I want to feel happy with my team playing football and giving the best I can. A high profile life is not for me.
If you had to describe Thai players to your friends back in Spain, which five words would you choose?
SPEED, AGILITY, TECHNIQUE, ATTACKERS and WINGERS.
If you could change three things about the Thai Premier League, what would they be?
The pitch conditions could be a higher level and more care taken of them. That will help to see better football.
As a foreigner, what do you think Thai football must improve to make it more successful in the future? It is very important that clubs have youth teams and academies to develop players. That will make the league more competitive in the future. BEC Tero have really given young players an opportunity which is good to see
Tell us what it is like working with Sven Goran Eriksson.
Mr. Eriksson is coach with a lot of experience and I am sure he will help us achieve a lot of things. I hope we can take his knowledge onto the pitch and get results.
Having been at Betis for 12 years, do you plan to return to the club maybe as a coach in the future?
Yes when I stop playing I would like to get my coaching license in Spain and start developing youngsters. But you never know what the future will offer.
Thank you for your time, Arzu, from the TLF team