INTERVIEW | 09/06/2019 | Edu Bueno | PHOTOGRAPHER: Víctor Carretero“I'm extremely grateful to the club and the fans for their support and the way they've treated me all these years”, said the captain upon reaching his historic milestone.
Felipe Reyes made his 1,000th Real Madrid appearance yesterday in the clash with Valencia Basket. Today the captain has given an interview with Realmadrid.com and Realmadrid TV to discuss what it means to reach such an impressive figure and his experiences over the last 15 seasons with the Whites. “When I arrived I never imagined I would go on to be at this great club for so many years, let alone make 1,000 appearances. It's gone beyond my wildest dreams and expectations”.
What does it mean to you to make it to 1,000 matches in a Real Madrid jersey?
It makes me very proud to have pulled on this great club's jersey 1,000 times. I'm happy to have played so many games for Real Madrid. When I arrived I never imagined I would go on to be here for so many years, let alone reach this figure. All of it has gone beyond my expectations and my wildest dreams and I feel incredibly fulfilled and very happy with the achievements I've managed during this time.
They always say that making the first team isn't the hardest, but rather staying there. What you've done is extraordinary, especially at a club with the level of expectation of Real Madrid…
The recipe for success is always hard work, sacrifice, to come into training and give one hundred percent every day, not keep anything back for the next day and give it all you have. Ultimately, all that effort and hard work bring their rewards. It's been 15 years of wearing this great club's jersey and I've achieved something which seemed almost impossible. It's also a result of the work I've put in over all these years, being surrounded by great people both inside the club and out and having so many people who help me and support me, like my teammates, the coaching staff, physios, press, the kit men. They help me feel happy and keep me turning up every day with a smile on my face to keep contributing to this team.
What has Real Madrid during this time?
They have given me so many positive things since day one. Everything I have to say about this wonderful club is positive. The club, teammates and fans have always been so welcoming with me and I felt like I belonged since the first day I arrived. I've had great times and those which haven't been quite so good but fortunately I've been able to celebrate several titles and enjoy them with the team and the fans. If I hadn't been with this team, there are so many things I never would have achieved. I'm extremely grateful to the club and all the fans for their support and how well they've treated me throughout the years.
What was the Reyes who arrived in 2004 like, and how have you developed into the player you are now?
I was a young player who came in full of hunger and a desire to improve, I wanted to contribute as much as I could. I knew how hard it would be to succeed at a team as good as this one and I arrived with real excitement and desire. I gradually started reaching my goals, improving elements of my game which were perhaps lacking a bit and began to mould the player that I am today. An aggressive player who fights for every ball. I've matured but in many senses I'm still the same player I was when I arrived. I still play with the same excitement and desire I had on day one.
Of your 1,000 games, does any one stick out in your mind in particular?
I'm lucky enough to have countless wonderful memories in this jersey. I couldn't possibly choose just one. There are the Euroleague finals we won, those in the ACB, the Copa del Rey… If I had to pick a single one, perhaps the Euroleague in Madrid because of where we were and given it was the first after so many years chasing that goal. That might just be the most beautiful moment I've experienced at Real Madrid.;
On an individual level you've won 9 accolades, among them, MVP in the League, MVP in finals, ACB Best Five, Euroleague Best Five…
The MVP for the season is a significant award because it recognises the work you've done throughout the year but MVP trophies for finals are also amazing because they meant I played a big role in helping the team lift the League trophy. I think perhaps my most special individual award is the MVP in the final when we won the League in Barcelona because it was my first trophy ever in a final.
Another big moment for you, was becoming Real Madrid captain. How do you remember it?
It all happened very quickly, in my second year. In my first season, Herreros was the captain and I learned so much from him. He retired and because it was such a young squad and lots of players had been at the club a very short time, Maljkovic decided to make me captain. I took it on with immense pride; I never thought I'd be Real Madrid captain, let alone in only my second year. It was a huge responsibility but I showed strength and huge desire to fulfil it.
You've played 15 seasons for Real Madrid. Rullán played 18. Do you think you've got that record in you?
It doesn't sound like a lot but three seasons is a long time. I'll take it year by year, which is what I told myself long ago. At this stage, I'm going to finish the season and go into next year feeling fresh. We'll have to see. The young lads are coming through very strong and I don't know what will happen in the future. All I know is, I'll keeping working at 100% every day to contribute to the team and I'll give it my all in every training session and every game; time will tell if I can break Rullán's record.
You are a beloved player among the fans, you've always had a wonderful relationship with them. What message would you like to send them?
Thank you so much for your support, the encouragement the have given us this season. We wouldn't have got this far without them. They are our sixth man. When things aren't going so well, they are always there to support us and push us through. We're going to give it everything we've got to lift another League title and I'm sure we can manage that all together. Let's go for it and we'll need your support as ever.