INTERVIEW | 20/10/2014“I've told my team-mates to enjoy the match at Anfield as much as possible,” he added in an interview given to UEFA.
Real Madrid face Liverpool on Wednesday on matchday three of the Group Stage of the Champions League (8:45pm CET). In an interview given to UEFA, Álvaro Arbeloa looked back over the two-and-a-half seasons he played at the English club and on the Whites' performances in the competition. He also highlighted how special a match at Anfield will be.
What is your analysis of Real Madrid's season in the Champions League?
We're doing very well. We won the first two matches, which was our aim. We know that we still have to play two matches against Liverpool, which are going to be decisive in seeing how the group ends up. We want to play well and come out on top.
You have just mentioned the two games that you have to play against Liverpool. What is it going to be like returning to Anfield?
Going back to Liverpool after five years will be very special. I played at Anfield, so it will be great. But not just for me. I have told my team-mates to enjoy the match at Anfield as much as possible. Champions League nights and big games like this one at Anfield are very special. We're going to be up against a team that will come out to fight to the last and will give everything, because they need to win too.
What is your assessment of your time at Liverpool?
I grew a lot, both as a player and as a person. I spent two wonderful years there and I got used to a new culture.
You made your full debut for Liverpool at the Camp Nou against Barcelona. What do you remember about that match?
It was my first game in the starting line-up and my debut in the Champions League. What more can you ask, having come up through the ranks of the Real Madrid youth system, than to make your debut at the Camp Nou and win there? It was a magic, special night, playing for a great club and wearing the shirt of the European champions. We played a fantastic match.
You've played for Liverpool, the Spain team and Real Madrid with the number 2 or 17 on your shirt. Is there anything special about those two numbers?
The number 17 is the number I believe in most and with which I most identify myself, and I think I'm always associated with the number 17. But at Liverpool and at Real Madrid, that number had already been taken. At Liverpool Bellamy had it, so I had to wait until he left to get it. Rafa Benítez told me to take the number 2. It wasn't a problem. Here at Real Madrid it was Van Nistelrooy who had 17, so I took the number 2 again, also because it fits with my position at right-back. But if you ask me which number I would choose for a special match, I would always go for 17.
You've been at Real Madrid for a while now, what makes this club so special?
It's simple: it's the most important club in the world. That makes it special, there is no greater club. It's the one that has won the most titles and that says it all.
Last year, you experienced the Champions League final from the bench. Was it hard not to be able to take part in such a huge game?
When the match was played, I had just recovered from an injury and the doctors told me that it wouldn't be possible. Despite everything it was great to be there, on the bench and in the dressing room. As I've said, when I suffered the injury there was a lot of scepticism but with hard work and effort I was able to be there with my team-mates in the end.
Having lost the final in 2007 with Liverpool, does it make last year's win mean more to you?
La Décima was the most important trophy and after winning it I can look back without the anxiety I had before. I've lost in the semi-finals four times and I always thought about the missed opportunity in Athens (against AC Milan).
What is the key to being a success as a club player?
The key is to work hard. Be consistent, ambitious and enjoy this job. It can seem like a hobby but in the end it's our job. I am lucky enough to be someone who wakes up every morning with a smile on his face, aware of the fact that I'm doing something I like. And, as I've said, you have to be consistent.
You play with Cristiano Ronaldo. What can you say about his qualities as a player?
There's no doubt that Cristiano is the best player in the world at the moment. He is a great professional and a player who improves every day. No-one can imagine what he does. Training and playing with him helps you to grow and improve. For us, it's a privilege to have Cristiano with us.