Tell me a little about Malu - that beautiful song that you have chosen for the start of this interview. Good evening and welcome to Real Madrid Television.
Good evening. Thank you.
I'd really like to start this interview off by talking a little about your hair. I've never seen such a bushy haircut like yours - especially compared to mine! You're willing to comment on mine too if you like!
The thing is my hair scares even me!
So you could say that it's your song in the way that every couple has their own special song.
That's right, yes.
And it's Spanish music what about flamenco - the music you listened to in your neighbourhood, like, say, Camarón...
Yes, like most Andalusians I like flamenco. My favourite singer is from my neighbourhood. I like Camarón too. But I chose Malu because it says something to me and my girlfriend.
You are from Motril and you can really tell that your hometown is close to your heart, it runs through your veins...
Yes. Motril and all of Andalusia are special to me. It's a huge thing for me. I was born there. I really identify with the region and consider myself an Andalusian. People always say that Andalusians are known for their art and humour - and it's true. In the dressing room, we have Andalusians such as Sergio Ramos and I really identify with him. We get along really well and as fellow Andalusians, we are a little different from the rest.
So you are Andalusian, you identify with art and being funny, telling jokes. Is José Callejón more of an artist? Or is he more of a comedian?
Or maybe a bit of both?
Yes, I am a bit of both. I am not especially artistic but I am a very happy person. I have a good sense of humour and I am always in good spirits. As long as I have happiness in my life, I am fine.
What is your hometown Motril like?
I am from the Callejón district but my surname has nothing to do with that. There, I played outdoors a lot with my brother. We are twins and he means everything to me. He has always supported me. Also, in my grandmother’s house there was a garden with two trees which we would use as a goal. I used to play there with Antonio and Juan - my cousin. It was a very happy childhood. It was one of the happiest times in my life as I shared everything with my brother. He's an amazing brother and my best friend- I really value him and we tell each other everything that is happening in our lives. I think he's an incredible person.
Can you tell us about the Callejón family in which you grew up?
It was just a normal house with the front porch and living quarters upstairs and there was always a football lying around. My brother and I were always playing. My father was never a really big football fan and when I was five I started playing with the local team at my grandmother's house. Little by little, I started improving and eventually I started to play for Motril. I have been lucky enough to continue playing football.
If I am not mistaken, your parents still live in that same house. What was the young José Callejón's bedroom like back then?
My bedroom wall was covered in pictures of footballers. I also collected football stickers...
Of which players? Which players appeared on your bedroom wall?
Lots! Luis Figo, Ronaldo... a lot of players who, when we were little, we wanted to be like. I had pictures of lots of players and other things too but above all, it was football and sport that interested me.
What did you dream about when you were a boy in that bedroom?
I really wanted to be a footballer . I was certain of that when I was a small boy. I was just a little six-year-old boy, but that was what I enjoyed doing and that's what I wanted to do. My brother and I started playing very young. Football was what excited us and little by little I have moved forward, and I have had the good luck to be where I am today.
You always talk about your brother and about when you played together, but we also must mention friends like Javi, Raúl, Carlos... your group of friends.
We played in the same team when we were little... Javi, Raúl, Carlos.... We are still great friends to this day. Javi lives in Madrid, so we see each other quite a lot. Whenever I go down to Motril or Granada, I see Raúl and Carlos and we go out for a drink. They have always been there for me and always will be.
Is it difficult to talk to those people who have taken a different route to you in their lives? You are a professional footballer and have many privileges that maybe they don't. What are they doing?
They are all studying.
Is it difficult to tell them that, for example, tomorrow you are going to be playing in a Champions League match with Real Madrid? Or that you beat such and such a team? Is that difficult for you?
Yes, a little, but they are all excited about what is happening to me. Maybe they haven't had the same luck as I have and maybe they won't go as far but they understand me well and really support me. When I told them I was going to sign for Real Madrid, or about a Champions League match, they understand. They have brought me luck and they are happy that my brother and myself have reached this far.
Is it important not to lose contact with friends like that?
It's important to be humble and to respect others. Friends are an important part of life, like your family or partner. You should never lose contact with your friends as their friendship is very special.
Were any better than you at football? Or did you always stand out?
We've always been told that the Callejon brothers had something special about them. But the team I played for when I was young were very good. We won almost everything.
Did you start playing five-a-side football?
Yes, I started playing five-a-side football. I then played seven-a-side before moving to eleven-a-side.
You come from a family full of Real Madrid fans, including your father who used to play professionally.
He used to captain Motril which is why my brother and I fell in love with the game. He used to play in a local side and I remember he used to play at eight or nine in the morning. I also remember my brother and I were ready half an hour beforehand to watch him play. While we waited for his match we´d have a little game between us and kicked the ball around.
Did your father give you much advice on life or football, given that he reached the mid-levels of the game? You´ve passed this and now play for Real Madrid. What was the best piece of advice your father gave you?
The best advice my father gave me was to always be very humble, to show respect in life and football, and that in matches you are only as good as your last performance. You always have to give your best whether it is training or in a game, and never give up or become disillusioned. If you work hard day by day you will be rewarded in the future.
It is clear to see you are very family-oriented, so let´s have a look at your family, starting with your parents with Jose Maria and Encarni because, if I´m not wrong, they run a fruit stall in the Motril market. What can you tell us about them both and their fruit stall?
For me and my brother they are very special. The fruit stall is very special in the Motril market. From a young age my brother and I always helped out, getting up very early to work....
At what time?
At 6 or 7 in the morning because they have to buy the fruit and prepare the stand. They only work in the morning until around 2 in the afternoon but it takes it out of you. They are still fruit vendors and they are very special to me. They have raised me and brought me here to Madrid when I was 14. They came every weekend to watch me play in all the competitions and at every level I played. I was always very proud of them and am grateful for the support they have always given me.
It´s moving to hear you say you are proud that your father is a fruit vendor.
That´s what I said and I will always say that, Every job has a value and its rewards whether it is a fruit vendor or a builder, any position of work has to be earned through hard work and effort, and involves a great commitment over many years.
What do you remember of the fruit stall? When you say you helped in the fruit stall, what did you and your brother do?
When we had school in the morning, we would go there first, my mother would always give us a bit of fruit for break time at school; we´ve always been big fruit fans. When we finished school we would always go back to the stall and wait for my parents to finish bringing all the fruit back in. We would always do our bit to help them, and after they had closed everything down we would go back home to eat.
And now, what do the two of them say, with you realizing your dream of returning home to play at Real Madrid, this time as an important player? They must be very proud.
Yes they are. They are very excited and it is also a dream realized for them. They wanted their sons to do something with their lives, we are on the right path and have achieved a part of the dream. Now we have to continue working and fighting every day so that our parents are proud of who we are and what we are doing.
What about your mother? It´s always the fathers who are encouraging their sons to play football, while the mothers are more concerned with study, saying in case the football doesn´t turns out well make sure you study. What did your mother say?
My mother was always more critical, saying don´t rely on having a successful football career, but that the two of them would always be there. She was quite right with what she said. At any moment the dream of being a football player could be cut short, or an injury could end it all, But at the same time I always stuck with my studies, and we both did well, and our father always had the opposite view. He always believed his sons could be footballers, even though he hadn´t done that well. We focused on football because I think he thought we were made of the right stuff to be successful and to get to where we are now.
And at 14 years old, you came to Real Madrid. What memories do you have of the first time you put on the Real Madrid shirt?
I remember my first day in training at the old training ground at the top of the Castellana. I arrived in my Dad's car, we got lost and almost arrived late and it was just so special to have come from Motril, for us a dream, because our team had always been Madrid and I always had the first team on my mind, on stickers and was always watching them, so it was very special to put the shirt on and have a badge on my chest that meant a lot to us.
Can you remember Jose Maria Callejon in the youth academy of Real Madrid, any special day, or game, a training session or a game, any unforgettable memory?
I remember many games, many tournaments that we won, that I played with Granero, Lora, Adan… many teammates that I have had. I also remember the SEC School. It very intensive with the studying where I also met many people I am still friends with.
You always say that the player that has made the biggest impression on you has been Iker Casillas.
For me he is the reference point. He is the captain of the national team, he is the captain of the club… He is a very humble person, very close. He has a lot of solidarity about him and is very sensible. I look up to him. I try to learn a lot from him, because I like his personality a lot. I try to learn from his example.
How did you develop during your time at Espanyol
I developed in maturity and I developed as a person. With coach Pochettino I learnt a lot. He helped me so much. He understood a lot about football and also about life, which helped because when you are just 18 years old you don’t really understand. And over that time I learned much because when you are 21 or 22 years old you’re still a young lad.
Then, suddenly, you were united with Jose Mourinho, and Mourinho likes Jose Maria Callejon, the football player. How significant is it for a footballer like yourself to have a coach like Mourinho having faith in you. He said he wanted you on his team.
I couldn´t believe it. It’s a dream to have the best coach in the world to have faith in me. It’s a dream. I couldn´t believe it, but sincerely, it’s incredible for the club to trust me. I have a contract for five years, I was here since I was young all the way through the youth academy and of course I will defend the club until the day I die.
What is the significance of Jose Mourinho to you as a player?
Mourinho is the best trainer in the world and a very special person. He is also close to the players. He explains everything very clearly to your face, which is very important, and he is very direct. Whether it’s good or bad he will say it to your face. I think he is the type of person you can learn a lot from.
How significant was it to return to Real Madrid?
It's a dream come true. When I left here aged 21 it definitely wasn't easy because I saw plenty of players from the youth system end up in the first team like Alvaro Negredo, Javi Garcia and Esteban Granero. I used to ask myself why I wasn't playing alongside them too. But life works in mysterious ways. I spent three years away from the club and they've proven to be very important. I've grown a lot as a player and as a person. My hard work has helped me be where I am today.
When you left the club, did you think you would come back?
No, I didn't think I would be back. I thought I would play for Espanyol for a very long time. It's a real family club and they've always treated me incredibly well. I was very happy there and always had the support of the fans, my teammates and the whole managerial staff. When the opportunity arose to come to play for Real Madrid, the biggest club in the world, I knew that I couldn't say no.
As you know Real Madrid is always in the news, with every image of the team or sentence uttered by a player or the coach being reported on. There's talk at the moment that the team isn't getting along very well.
The people who are saying those things don't know the players or the team dynamic. We're like a family. It's as if we're on a boat and we all have to get along and help each other out whenever we can. It's easy to see that we have a great relationship when we're at every training session or out on the pitch playing a match. Whoever believes the opposite is wrong.
Who helped you out when you first arrived back at Real Madrid? You must have felt overwhelmed upon entering the dressing room of the most important club in the world…
Everybody was great but especially the youth team players and those who I knew from before, like Alvaro Arbeloa, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Esteban Granero and Antonio Adan. I'd played with some of them and others I just knew from when I was in the youth system. Everybody else has helped me out and been great to me. I'm very proud of myself for being here.
A lot of Madridistas watch this show and are very interested in getting to know the real you. It's known that you are the apple of Mourinho's eye. He's even said that he'd like to change some of the clothes that you're wearing.
Yes, my trousers. He doesn't like them.
What would you like to say to all the Madridistas watching you?
Real Madrid is a great team made up of fantastic individuals. Our coaching staff are excellent and definitely one of the best in world. We have to play at our best at all times and defend the badge. We're going to do everything in our power to win all three titles. If we do that we'll be delighted, but especially because the fans will be too.
It is a tradition now on this show for the player to sign the table for all the people who work here and, of course, for the Madridistas who watch this show. While you do that, could you tell us what your dreams are for this season, both professionally and personally?
I want the team to win all three titles this season. I've come here to Real Madrid to help the team and also grow as a player. I want to win titles by working hard and fighting in every game right up to the last minute. We want to achieve everything we possibly can. Personally, I want to improve as a player and grow as a person. I want to continue maturing and make the most of every opportunity that comes my way. I want to show all the Madridistas that I deserve to be here by playing my best.