The workshops of the old EL PAÍS presses, in Madrid, host the meeting between two giants of the benches: the former Spanish football coach, Vicente del Bosque (Salamanca, 67 years old), and the goldsmith of one of the great champions of the history of tennis, Toni Nadal (Manacor, 57 years old). So different and so equal the two, because they vary the expression and the form, but not the background. The conversation, prolonged before and after the recorder is activated, reveals reciprocal respect and admiration.
Vicente del Bosque. From what I have read about you, it gives me the feeling that we are not very different, although there are nuances afterwards. I think you are an austere person, of effort, of work. Simple. You have always looked for simplicity, which seems a banal matter, but I give it a lot of importance. What differentiates us is that you have had an individual sport and I have a collective one, and for the leader it is very different. You also led a work group, but in the end the one who played was only one. We were driving 25 guys: they only play 11 and there are 14 that do not play.
Toni Nadal I think your work is more difficult because I was lucky enough to train a boy who is ugly to say because he is my nephew, he is very polite. It was easy to carry, it was easy to tell him things. I have a brother who was a footballer and I know that in a dressing room there are problems, and it is more difficult. Your mood went very well to the Spanish team and was one of the merits.
D. B. There is not a single recipe.
T. N. I always say! When I go to give talks I talk about my way of understanding things, but I never pretend to be dogmatic. I say: that way we have done well, but there are people who have done it in a totally different way and surely they have done better than us. You have said one thing that for me is essential, that is the subject of the demand. It is very difficult to succeed in life if one is not demanding. Afterwards, I think there is one thing we are alike for. Memory Iniesta's goal in the World Cup in South Africa, when they focused on you, and your face was normal.
D. B. Well, I made a slightly exaggerated gesture …
I got excited about Valverde. That an uncle of 38 wins something like that … "
VICENTE DEL BOSQUE
T. N. No man no! Less than that can not be done, because I, who am not exactly a super passionate and try to demystify things, I remember that in that goal I jumped, I screamed and my children were scared.
D. B. I was excited recently. I do not know if you saw the World Cycling Championship, with [Alejandro] Valverde, but it was impressive, like so many other afternoons with Rafa. I swear to you that the tears came to me when seeing him in the podium.
T. N. It also happens to me sometimes.
D. B. It's amazing how that guy, with 38 years, has been able to win that test. An absolutely dedicated life, dedicated to his own, with a huge sacrifice. I am very cycling, huh?
T. N. You have named the sacrifice, and I believe that the sacrifice is when you do what you do not like, in any case. Once I went to give a talk for Real Madrid, for the university that they have, and Emilio Butragueño asked me the same thing. He told me about Rafael's sacrifice, and I said no: 'man, sacrifice, no! Rafael has made an effort in life, but I do not believe that his was a sacrifice. ' Rafael has always had the luck to do what he likes. I remember that a few years ago you told an anecdote. You wanted to do one thing and Puyol came to you, Xavi and I do not know who else, and they said: 'Mr., I think we should do this in a different way.' And you said: 'well, perfect, let's do it differently'. I told Rafael and the team: 'Look at Del Bosque, who not only accepted that the players wanted to do something different from what he had exposed, but also tells it.'
D. B. Well, it is that we must know how to listen.
T. N. Ya, but my brother had to according to what coach, I'm not going to say the name …
D. B. But it is not a matter of weakness.
T. N. Upside down! Of strength!
D. B. It is very important that the players believe that they are the ones in charge, but that what you want is done. That is the most important.
T. N. Howard Gardner said that the important thing for the leader is to make him understand who has to do the things that must do what you want. And now I'm going to ask you a question: What did you think when you lost the first match of the 2010 World Cup against Switzerland?
D. B. It was a very painful moment, but we could not change at that moment or renounce what we believed. From Barcelona they told us to remove Xabi Alonso and from Madrid they told us to quit Busquets. We stayed firm and in the end we won, but also because we were very lucky.
It seems that it only makes things well that triumphs and that is not true "
T. N. Yes, it is always necessary. When I see Rafael's match against Federer at Wimbledon repeated in 2008, I still see some ball that could have changed the sign of victory. I still get tense.
D. B. It's something that you have done since you started. I remember Indurain, when when he said he had climbed the ports he did it in the plural. It said: 'we have to go up …' And behind it were Echávarri and Unzue. You have been behind Rafa and you have modeled it.
T. N. Man…
D. B. No, it's true. You have been such a big motivation for him … That fight, that does not give a single ball for lost, and then also the behavior when he has lost. And I also give the example of David Ferrer. When I go to give a talk there I usually give the example of the two. Rafa is Rafa and David has won a lot too, but above all they are very similar in the attitude they have had in each ball.
Playing was as smart as Guardiola, but Pep saw all the space "
T. N. Yes, and so much. I always give David an example, because we praise too much the one who always wins and sometimes we forget other people. It seems that only things do well that triumphs and it is not like that. Both, both the one and the other, what most characterizes them is the commitment to what they do. It's what I always demand of my children. I really like to make speeches when I accompany them to school in the morning. Every day I make a new one and sometimes I look at them in the rear-view mirror and I see the little one doing: puff … My comments go in two senses. First, in the need to improve. One day we passed through an area with rustic farms and said: Look at those sheep! One is eating, another sunbathing and others in a group. Yesterday they did exactly the same thing and tomorrow, when we go through again, they will do the same. In life, you can choose whether you want to improve or not. In life, the main thing is to improve, and then there is how you do it, which is related to commitment. If you do not commit, it's very difficult. This is what I always demanded from Rafael and he completely internalized it.
D. B. Yes, the feeling of belonging to a sport, because you have been passionate about tennis and have defended it, and we have done the same with football. It is our passion. I have a sense of belonging to Madrid, but still a greater one towards football.
You have been a great motivation for Rafa and you have modeled it "
VICENTE DEL BOSQUE
T. N. And there is another commitment: commitment to life. When he was little, Rafael demanded that each training be like a final, because that meant a commitment to what he was doing. It can not be that we go to half gas and then we want the day of the end … No. The commitment is daily.
D. B. It is where you have to put more accent. Tennis, in addition, is a sport that requires a lot of technique, right? And the technique is a little orthodox. In the past, nobody was seen to give a backhand with both hands, right?
T. N. No, it started mostly with Björn Borg.
D. B. Yes, he started, right? I believe that technique, in any game, is vital.
T. N. Yes, but I tell the coaches of the Manacor academy that they pay close attention to the technique. In the end, I was surprised when they told me that Guardiola was very smart. I told them that I was as smart as he was, but when I have to stop the ball I have to look … and it escapes me! And, instead, he had the ability to see all the space. The technique allows you to do that.
D. B. And then there is another training based on repetition. There is no better learning than repetition. Although it seems that no, in football too, eh?
T. N. I distinguish two things: repetition and reflection. If you repeat without reflecting, normally it does not go well, and if you just reflect, you usually stay alone in what I am, a coach.
D. B. We had one in 74, Miljan Miljanic, who worked from the repetition. We did a combinative action and we repeated it again and again, again and again … If now you tell the players to do something like that, they send you to the club at ten minutes …
The world has changed. The technician must also be a teacher "
T. N. The world has changed.
D. B. We did it with absolute obedience, because he believed in that, and the truth is that he was a very good coach. He was a cultivated man, who was happy to be with him. Now in many cases we become soccer coaches and we are nothing, but the coach has to be a little too …
T. N. A little professor.
D. B. Yes, because the coach's other task affects human behavior and personal relationships. That's why I said before that it's difficult to have a good living in a changing room, because you choose 11 and the other 14 are demon-possessed. But you can not go and say, 'Hey, look, you do not play for this.' You can not wear yourself out every day giving explanations to those who do not play.
T. N. Did not you give explanations to those who did not play?
D. B. Very few, and that when I was a player I thought that when I was a coach I would give them. That is an error.
I have a sense of belonging to Madrid, but even more to football "
VICENTE DEL BOSQUE
T. N. Yes?
D. B. Is not easy. We had a player who put a face … It was impossible to master. I told him many times so bajini: do not get mad at me … And it happened to us also with Iker. We removed it not because we had anything against it, on the contrary; we've seen him grow up since he was nine years old, his father taking him to train every day from Móstoles, and he has played 167 games with the national team, so take him … I did not see the opportune moment to tell him before, but I did it later and he I had to understand it because in the end, we all have the same goal, which is to win.
T. N. I do not have it so clear.
D. B. Man, the objective is that, another thing is the path that you choose to achieve it.
T. N. The final goal of the group is yes, but the particular objective of each one is to triumph individually. I understand that if I am the second forward of a team and the one that is ahead of me, scores a goal … If it is the final, I want to mark it, but I do not prefer to be marked by another.
D. B. I believe that there must be a feeling of generosity, because in the end, generosity is always profitable.
T. N. Yes, definitely. By the way, what was the greatest satisfaction you had as a player?
D. B. Be 36 years in the same club. I entered as a child and left the director of the quarry. I had the moral leadership of such great people as Don Santiago Bernabéu or Luis Molowny. I was professional, then coach and I was 17 years in the sports city, with kids, and for me that was the most beautiful stage.
Rafael demanded it day after day as if it were a final. Commitment"
T. N. And when did you know you would be a good player?
D. B. I never thought I was going to be a player. I saw the people of Salamanca walking around the city while I was in high school, and he said to me: 'Joé, I want to be like them', but I did not think he would be. Once I was here in Madrid, the first two years, I thought: I think I can earn my living with this.
T. N. And what would you highlight about your work as a coach?
D. B. I have been, within what is possible, demanding and at the same time flexible. And I think it has not given us bad results. There are some who are very good technicians and sports, but in the human are catastrophic.
T. N. What has been the best Spanish player you've seen?
D. B. Currently Messi, without any doubt.
T. N. No, no, I say Spanish … I, for example, am from Barcelona, but at the same time I am a strong defender of Raúl. I loved it. I like people who are ready when they play.
D. B. We have had a few heroes … Raúl was fantastic, and notice that he has experienced a great change; Now he is a loving uncle, but before he was very severe. That yes that was demanding, with himself and with everything that surrounded him, and it was not bad thing. He changed his experience abroad a lot. Look, not to mention the current ones, I always say that Hierro and Pirri were very complete. They were uncles who defended, built and scored goals. For me, better than Beckenbauer. This was exquisite, but the other two were phenomena, two players.
In sport there must be generosity. This is always profitable "
VICENTE DEL BOSQUE
T. N. In his day I asked Cruyff this same question and, do you know what he told me?
D. B. That the best was Di Stéfano … Because he did everything.
T. N. That's. Johan liked him because Alfredo was able to play the game better than the others. He was one of those who liked to think. I also asked him when he knew that he would be so good, and he said: 'I, since I was a child, was always very good'. But beware, he did not tell me that with bravado, huh? He was a character.
D. B. Man, he was the best in the neighborhood …
T. N. And then there's Leo Messi, Clear.
D. B. Awesome, awesome. How he plays!
T. N. I do not know if it is better than Maradona or not … But this one had an extra difficulty: before they beat more than now.
D. B. Is that before there were no cameras, nobody found out. Now they catch you for nothing.