Estalella: «I was always interested in the human side, the shadowy part»

José Estalella (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1968), economist and confessed devotee of football ("UD Las Palmas and FC Barcelona", he specifies in his scale of preferences), has appeared on the publishing scene with two books
'Behind the ball' and 'In addition to the ball', in which he has made available to all incredible, unlikely and, in some cases, even miraculous stories of the sport that monopolizes his dreams. In a sort of "personal liberation", as he admits, he devoted himself to research and informative work that,
From this Monday, and in regular deliveries, it will share with all the readers of CANARIAS7 in the digital and paper edition.

-He writes about what he likes, which is football...

-This is a hobby. Like the one who makes models or raises pigeons.

-But with exhaustive prior documentation.

- Well, like those who dedicate themselves to putting small boats inside a bottle. That takes time. Well, this is the same. I have changed from going for a run to dedicating myself to this. That it is less healthy physically, but that I am passionate about. I knew many stories and decided to publish them.

-It's one more step. How has she been?

-Going from knowing them to capturing them in a book requires you. You investigate, look for data, check... And then there is the work of writing them so that they reach people. I spend some time on it, obviously. I always try that everything I write is tested and proven. There may be some mistake, of course. But if I don't have the conviction that the story is true, I don't put it. I drink from different sources. I try to avoid apocryphal anecdotes, although I put one of the Coco Basile but with the warning that it was like that.

- Where does all this come from?

-Since I was little I was interested in the human part of football. The result interested me as a fan. But I was always interested in what was behind it. I remember the section What the eye does not see, the original version of Canal Plus, which for me was ground gold. The shadowy part catches my attention. That thing that they already do in some sports, like in the NBA, of putting the camera in the locker room, that for me is wonderful.

-Doesn't it reduce purity that those previously sacred spaces are invaded?

-You see the person and their behavior in the field and in privacy. It is true that he is filed knowing that there is a camera. But the personality of the individual will always manifest.

-Of all the stories you have told, which is the one that you rescue because of its peculiarity, importance or rarity?

I have a few that catch my attention. Perhaps the least amusing are the ones that I can keep in mind the most, like the one about a Scot who goes to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and that is extraordinary. Another by an Argentine photographer, also in Mexico 1986. Or by a Russian who exemplifies the extent to which a totalitarian system can destroy a person...

-What are you looking for? Excite people?

- People have a good time. Impossible to want more than that.

-He dispenses with the ball in the titles of his books. There he leaves the main track of his purpose.

I am off the field. In many of the stories I don't even put the result. Or I reflect it anecdotally. Because, here, the important thing is the result. I stay in the development of the facts. The story of the first female soccer player is unbelievable and is the product of a persecution of stories from a man from Malaga, to give an example.

-There are stories from Spain, Italy, Russia, Argentina... And from the surrounding area? From the UD?

-I have several historical weaknesses of the UD. One, Pepín, for a family matter. I have another myth, Tonono, which reminds me of my grandmother, who was the one who got me into this football thing. The Argentines of the seventies, Paquito Ortiz... There are several stories about UD, yes. And always in a friendly and didactic tone. If the character doesn't benefit from something, so to speak, I don't give the identity because I'm not looking for that. Although in some cases, yes, due to its distance and because we did not have it close by, I considered that it was necessary to put names and surnames. Like Mustard Merlo, who said that he had a lung "like everyone else."

-He was pleased with the receptivity that his books have had. Better recognition than that...

-People love them. I have been told. They are books that are easy and enjoyable to read.

-And they are available to everyone.

-Yes. In La Rana Roja, which is a store that is on Arena Street, in Triana, in Sinopsis, the Cabildo bookstore, Canaima and in the La Fontana de Oro publishing house.

Do you have many more stories to tell?

-Football has more than 150 years of history... And that goes a long way. I follow. Now I am embarked on compiling everything that I have to do with the World Cups.

-He talks about football from before, the purest. What inspires you today, in which money and image culture rule?

-Today soccer is a business that moves billions. How the NBA became after the appearance of Magic and Larry Bird. And we have to accept it that way. It has lost all the romance. And we have to see how sustainable it is going to be, because one thing is salaries and budgets and quite another is whether or not it is generated for it. We are seeing clubs of great importance and tradition in very complicated financial situations.

-He says that there is a loss of romanticism. Have I stolen football from people in your opinion?

-I remember the people in the sandbanks of the Insular because, then, many could not afford to spend a few pesetas to buy their ticket. The Insular was not always full. Before and now, football is expensive or cheap depending on your income. I say this because of the issue of tickets, whether or not they are expensive. But, as I pointed out before, football has become a business and we fans have little to do or say about that. Now a team represents a brand. Before it was the way to represent a city, an island. UD previously represented Gran Canaria and the Canary Islands. Now it is not like that.

-Now their stories are going to appear in CANARIAS7.

-Very grateful for this opportunity, as well as with the official UD radio station to which I go weekly, and with the desire that people have fun and have a good time. Soccer is the excuse to tell stories in which soccer, and forgive the redundancy, is almost the least of it. I remember stories of Bergkamp or Beckham in which the human component is predominant. Hence the title of the books, I go beyond the ball.

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