Interviews

Q&A WITH BORJA VALLE

24 Aug 2020
Borja Valle conceded an interview to La Voz de Galicia. The attacker says that he doesn’t know if he will continue at Deportivo, while he reflected on his four years at the club.

Q: You have just ended your contract at Deportivo. Four very difficult seasons, and there is hardly anybody left on the squad with whom you had completed that journey between Primera and the gates of Segunda B. What’s the balance?
A: These were many years and, luckily, I have had to live them. These have been very difficult years, but most footballers would have liked to experience good and bad moments at Deportivo. I have been a participant in them. I remember that, when I signed, I jumped for joy when Rodrigo [his agent] called me. Now you look back, and I was talking with my wife, that there have been four years in which I have lived being captain, playing in the best stadiums, and probably the greatest pain in the history of Deportivismo. I can only give thanks. I have been involved as if the club were mine, as if it were my home and my city. In my person it’s going to do it like that, but they have also made me do it that way. Being at Primera and playing very little, every time I jumped into the field I felt that people were cheering me on. For no reason. There were others, like Lucas, Guilherme, Adrián, Joselu... The most normal thing is to support the regulars, but I felt the people behind me. Then Seedorf arrived and counted on me, and there the affection was abysmal. That made me stay that summer. It was a summer in which the head didn’t stop, in which there were many offers, but my first option was to continue and I don’t regret it, despite the fact that they have been very complicated years until today. That last game, the most emotional moment of the race, in which you feel that you are in everyone's eye, but that you lack pace, that you go without legs or anything but you cross Spain so that they don’t laugh at you. And when that game ends, and the fifteen or twenty guys who have come each from one end of the country get together and shout... For the people, for Deportivo, for Álex, for doing justice even if it could only be on the field.

Q: Coldly, maybe not winning that game would have been better for the administrative battle, you would have involved more teams. Like Elche. Did you get to do those calculations?
A: I don't think that at any time Elche was discussed or that calculations were made. From the first moment we arrived, when the coach started talking... The reality is that we really came thinking that it was going to be a silly game, a fair game and that alteration that was talked about so much. But the coach didn’t have that in mind. That same Thursday, when we started training, he told us: "Guys, I want to win this game and there are sufficient reasons to do so." At no time these calculations were discussed. Simply, out of pride, so that they would see that despite adulterating absolutely everything, having deceived us, wanting to fool us... They were going to have to laugh only to a certain extent. In the field they weren’t going to be able to do it. That's what Beuvue came from where he came from, that's what Christian Santos also came to not play. For pride. We were constantly receiving messages of encouragement and requests that we defend the badge. And when each one got on their plane to come here, what they said was "thank you." Of course, that's what we discussed later in the changing room. That was why we came back: to shoot that penalty all together, to rejoice, to look the opposing coach in the face, see that he had lost his tie at the last minute, and say: “Up to here you will laugh at us”.

Q: Players who had barely counted during the season, such as Christian, and others highly noted for their performances such as Montero joined that game. Players who knew that they will not continue at Depor. Did you expect that answer?
A: Besides being a footballer, belonging to one club or another, you are at home and you have been a participant in a disastrous year. We can think of Montero, for example, and see that this goes beyond being whistled or having been better or worse. You are a person and you think about what you should or should not do. That’s where the values of each one enter. And this, what each one did, I would like him to give more value to the footballer as a person, not as a professional. To the human being. The decision was up to each one. We were already gone. Montero, Beauvue, Christian... We all had more to lose. You come back lacking pace and everything, after weeks without doing anything, and knowing that they can score five goals against you, that they can paint your face and that you will end up even more marked, that this can affect the future. But personal duty is to go and play. The decision is made by the person, not the professional.

Q: A demonstration of involvement that makes the leak of Álex Bergantiños' audio even more incomprehensible.
A: We can't understand that. Surely you will not know who it was, because there won’t be a person brave enough to recognize what he did. We are still perplexed. Surely it was someone without bad faith, because I don't think anyone in the group could think of deliberately damaging Deportivo, much less a person like Álex Bergantiños. The only thing that made me happy about that incident was seeing the affection Alex received from everyone. That support is what he would have deserved every day if people knew well everything he has done for the club. I wish whoever it was would step forward, admit their mistake and ask for forgiveness. Unfortunately, I think it will not happen.

Q: The incident would inevitably generate a certain distrust in those days before the game.
A: I met Álex and his family on the plane in Madrid. I was one of the first people who spoke to him and each of us has our suspicions, but it is something that I think will not come out. It did a lot of damage to the group, because in the end we were people who supported each other in a particularly hard year. What would perhaps hurt me the most is that in that moment of absolute emotion that was the cry in which the game ended, that person would have been there, I hope not.

Q: I think that in each transfer market I have asked you at least once if you were going to leave. This time, are you leaving?
A: I've talked about it so many times with the people closest to me. Many ask how it is possible that I love the city and the club so much when from the moment I arrived, in each pre-season and in each winter market they doubted whether I was going to continue. It is something that I never understood and that even raised doubts for me at times. I have come to stop renting a house and tell my agent that I was going to stay two or three weeks in a hotel, because I read or listened to several places that wanted me out and I didn’t know if they were looking for a team for me. With my hand on my heart I say, this, Deportivo, is my club and my home. I don't know what will happen. The game ends and we shout, then I went to sit on the bench to stay alone in the stadium and close my eyes, thinking that maybe this may be over. The truth? We have spoken with the club and they have always been willing to continue. They have done everything very well and will now be choosing. My feeling when they change me for Keko is that I was taking the last steps at the Riazor. On the one hand, there is that feeling that the journey has to end and... Well, what is it going to be now?

Q: And if you leave, what does you take with you?
A: The love of everyone, of course. I have always felt more affection than I should have. My figure at Deportivo has been complicated. The first two years I barely participated, at the last moment, and suddenly it was valid. That was the most complicated thing, with every goal I scored at Primera Division I felt a lot of anger. Or when Seedorf came out to ask where I had been all this time. There I felt so much anger... But while all that was happening, I never saw people treat me badly, quite the opposite. I have always noticed the fans on my side and that led me to what happened the day we were supposed to play against Fuenlabrada. Our bus is divided into two parts, and from the back door you some sofas. I sat next to that door, with El Pelón by my side. With Mollejo. I had gotten up that morning feeling overwhelmed, that it was going to be my last game with Depor, and the moment we rounded the corner and I saw the people around the stadium... Well, instead of rejoicing, I got for breaking into tears. And I thought, hell, what a shame all this so beautiful that’s is over. Later Mollejo used it to hesitate, but I have always perceived affection from people. And I am left with that, with my relationship with the coaches that I have had, with which I can look everyone in the face and boast that I have been a professional until the last moment. I came to show that I had a place in this team and I don't know if I will have shown it or not, but I think I have gained the respect of my people, no matter what I had to play. At the time there was the joke that I played of everything and nothing; as with Gaizka, with whom I trained in all positions on the field and then didn’t play in any. But look, that has led me to where I am and I would sign back to the same point: playing what I could play, but earning respect.

Q: The Love and a future as a midfielder. Had you imagined yourself in that position?
A: As I have experienced so many situations in this Deportivo, when Fernando arrived and began to locate me in the center and then continued to do so despite the changes he was introducing, I began to think about trying to do the best possible there. In the time that passed until I played, the coach spoke to me and told me that he saw me in that position, that he liked what I could contribute and that I needed to become the best in that position. What surprised me was the moment in which he gave me the opportunity, especially when he took me out in Tenerife. I went out to warm up with Vicente and I told him: "Vicen, squeeze because Uche is very screwed up." Then when I saw that they chose me, I even apologized. But that's how Fernando is. This little madness that he could have with him has always been the same and has led him to train for many years at Primera Division, to get promotions, to be a brand of this Deportivo. There must be a reason. Football is uncontrollable and if he is such a well-liked and successful person, he will have some insight into his madness.

Q: And in the closed season, at least on the grass. What happened?
A: That's the only question I'm not going to be able to answer. I'll tell you it's football. The squad wasn’t built to be where we have been all year, neither these same players will perform at such a low level on next year. Neither we did the year before. If next season you put the same guys in another squad, I have no doubt that they will perform a lot better. It seems a lie but here the badge is heavy. Sometimes too much; especially when the circumstances are against. I have lived it in me. I arrived as a man of pure speed, attacked to the wing, with the ability to take risks, but suddenly my head didn’t incite me to do so. The coach e asked me to play easy. And when one does, the one next door, the next... The team doesn't progress, it gets stuck without a plan. In the end you go straight to disaster. In this job the most important thing is the head. More important than how you hit the ball or how well you are physically. With a clean head, everything works. When the target doesn't eat you, like we did last year. We talked about it at the changing room: it was so necessary to reach the goal, so inevitable, that it hurt us. And this year it has been the same, practically. We have combined the little experience of the staff with a delicate situation and forced ambition. It has been too much.

Q: There are those who maintain, also within the club, that the new scenario hasn’t been assumed, that that now distant past is what makes the badge sometimes weigh excessively.
A: It is so. I have been to clubs like Oviedo in Segunda B in which in the end everything turned out perfect, but you were first nine points behind the second and you were scared that they would cut back, you only thought that you were Oviedo and you had to leave the rest to ten or fifteen points. The pressure took its toll on us. Here it has happened. Last year we did a good season until the last moment, and suddenly the downturn came and we felt that it ate us, we were overwhelmed. And this season, well a bit the same. You don't get to Deportivo just because, here we have had very good players, but it has sometimes exceeded the weight of that badge, which is true that it’s very large and that everything you do here has a greater impact, but you have to be careful so that it doesn’t turn against. Especially with the younger ones.

Q: What moments were the best for you?
A: I think my most important goal here was against Malaga. Above the ones at Primera. The hardest moment of my career was the Mallorca’s game. The pain that I felt then I have never felt. On the way back, on the plane, you couldn't even hear breathing. We were in shock. We weren’t even aware of what had happened. And the hardest year... This, without a doubt. Look that we have descended from Primera, that I haven’t played for a while, training as a winger or in any position, knowing that I wasn’t going to be called up, but this year... I have been eleven games without going to the field and there you have a hard time getting up every morning to go to training. I'm going to save that for when bad times come in my life, so that it drives me. Then, I already said it: the Fuenlabrada game was the most emotional thing that has ever happened to me in football.

Q: In Mallorca there were also scenes of incomprehensible tension, there was an animosity against Depor that has been perceived again at this end of the season. What does he attribute it to?
A: I can't understand it. I didn’t understand at the time how Mallorca treated us at the Riazor, the amount of insults that occurred there, beyond the nerves and the tension of a play-off. And then what happened there. I am even convinced that the bus stopping fifteen minutes in the sun in the middle of the road was no accident. I can't understand what Deportivo generates outside. I thought we were transmitting something nice, but now I think if during all these years we haven’t generated envy and hatred. How is there going to be that reaction against this club in a case like this one with Fuenlabrada, in which we have been clearly mistreated and in which the only ones who have acted in compliance with the regulations have been us. I see journalists from other cities transmit that the only culprit is the team that went to the field, that did things well, that hasn’t failed or been irresponsible. From there, the club fights for what it deserves.

Q: You defend that the competition was adulterated, but not everyone shares the importance of the unified schedule.
A: Of course it has nothing to do with it. I have lived it and it isn’t the same to find out that your rival has scored than to know that they just scored. Your head, your legs, or anything else in your body don't work the same way. The unification was established for something, it went against that and a film has been created that, as I have said, is about someone who wants to have them fatter.

Q: You have been very active in defending the interests of Depor, especially in social networks. You still have several years of football left. Did you ever think that your role might attract retaliation?
A: It’s true that football goes beyond being a job, because it is difficult to arrive, play and leave, but in the end it is a profession. Expressing myself doesn’t generate any fear for me, if telling the truth affects me, because this is a job that generates money to live, but life, my life, goes the other way. Along with my values and my way of being. I separate a lot. These days I have been a critic on social networks, something that I have never done before, but what has happened to us seems like an outrage to me. It generates a terrible sadness to see how in the end everything is related to convenience, friendships and business. As a kid you see something else, the ball, the field, the fans, the fun... Then you see the business and that, for those who run it, it has no greater value than that. People screaming or crying generates money, and that's it. That makes me jump. It is a shame that in the end they are the ones who take you where they want to take you.

Q: Your agent has also played an important role in the Fuenlabrada’s case.
A: Rodrigo is too fair as a person. When he sees a hoax, he goes for the truth until death. And so, it has happened. I even said to him "Rodrigo, stay out of it" because I knew who he was fighting against. But he doesn’t care to tell the truth. Then they come out saying that he lives in A Coruña and bullshit like that. What he has done is to tell what happened, what his player told him. I am very proud of him.

Q: And the role of the players union?" Have you felt helpless?
A: Now with the pandemic and the reduction of contracts, we all would have liked our union to be pending on us and they would have been the ones who took the step for the well-being of all the players. I have felt that they haven’t been brave and they have left a bad taste in my mouth. I can't understand the negotiations that each group of captains have had to hold with the clubs. Here we were very lucky because it wasn’t even a negotiation, we spoke with the president and the board and we reached an agreement very quickly, because it is a gentleman club, but I know that there have been many players who have gone through serious problems when negotiating those contracts. I don’t think it’s the player who should trade on their own. There I already began to feel helpless, as with all this. I would have liked our union to step forward and make it clear that the players weren’t going to fight, that they would have proposed an emergency meeting, a video call or something to talk about the matchday. Surely they were going to receive attacks, but if you are at home on the sofa and you are an antenna installer, you will receive attacks when the signal doesn’t arrive, and if you are from AFE, you will have to stand up for the players.

Q: There have been four seasons of constant changes and coexistence with a lot of players and coaches. Who do you mention now?
A: I take very good friends, although there are always people who stand out above others. Perhaps the case of Celso Borges, the good thing about him is that everyone thinks the same of him: he has an incredible human quality. You know him more or less, he generates something positive around him and that is what Deportivismo has to surround itself with. But if I'm honest with myself and I have to stay with people, I'll stay with the staff. I get emotional when I talk about them, because for me they have been a real family. From Adán, the physio, from Antón, who is no longer there, from Dani, from Lariño, Gabi the psychologist... The people who are really behind, who without realizing it instill values in you. You cannot imagine, people don’t imagine, the amount of things that these people endure. Of bad behaviors, responses, bad moments that they have to resign themselves to living putting a smile on you. Those people who receive so little and give so much... Those people. These people have to put up with everything.

Q: Unpleasant scenes have been deliberately disappearing from the changing room. There was a time when it was decided to prioritize the good atmosphere in the group.
A: I arrived with Tino and Richard Barral and the creation of the squad was totally different from what Carmelo del Pozo did. He came from a difficult changing room, people with a lot of character and a lot of ego and when Carmelo arrived I was delighted, because I knew that the changing room would prevail. That was how it had been in the years that we had met. I know he has rejected great footballers for not destroying the relationship at the changing locker room. Footballers who, no matter how excited they were in the first matches, were going to cause problems in the long run. For me the changing room of the last two years has been wonderful. Noble people, with a terrible hope. Then you get a frog that is the one that hurts you at the last minute and becomes a snitch, but during these two years there have been zero problems at the changing room and zero anger. The previous years had been one of many problems, with loads of discussions. I have lived fights at my side that I you won’t believe. My vision of football is different from that of many colleagues, I would never hit someone for playing or because they took the ball from me. It’s true that each squad is different, but I stick with the one from the last two years even after having come out so negatively at a sporting level. The day to day has been wonderful. I think people are also aware that inside there was anger, fights, punches, little stability... What hurts is that when you get that stability, at the sporting level everything goes to hell.

Q: There is no coach who hasn’t asked you for changes in your game. Are you tired?
A: It's been like that during my entire career, although there comes a time when it hurts. “Borja, with how powerful and fast you are, take it long and face the rival every time”, “Borja, drive forward”, maybe yes, but I also want to be the master of my destiny. I like to have the ball, to relate, and I prefer to make a wall to a bicycle. Inwardly, or with gestures, you try to make it clear that you are not that footballer, that you have already reached maturity and that you also want to do things in a way. What are you if you aren’t making the most of your qualities? Maybe that's the way it is, but I'm happy playing in one way and that won't change because Seedorf, Anquela, Fernando or Guardiola come. I will adapt and try to do what they ask me, but my football is my football and the person who wants to have Borja Valle has to know what Borja Valle is like.

Q: Several of those coaches have seen that you have conditions for the bench. Are those difficult moments useful learning for that future?
A: I'll never be a coach. Surely, I will stay with that thorn, because I like football, it is my life, and I would like to remain linked to that world, but I think I have made the decision one hundred percent. When Fernando told me: “You are going to be a coach, sure”, I replied: “No, mister, don't be annoying”. Because I have the feeling that I am not worth making a decision that affects someone so directly, for better or for worse. I don't think I could live the situation of seeing a person who kills himself while working and not putting it on, deciding that a person who can decide a game for you at the 90th minute even if he doesn’t run, plays, ahead of another one who works. I won't be able to make those kinds of decisions. The closest thing I can be will be a second coach. I don't think I can ever make a decision that so directly influences a person's future.

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