Do you remember Tito Vilanova from when he was a youth coach?
Yes, he was at Cadet B and me in Infantil B.
It was a fantastic generation
Messi, Piqué, Cesc Fàbregas, etc.
I imagine there were a lot of exclamation marks
Yes, that was the best footballing team, the one that won every title it could, the whole youth system had high hopes for that team.
When you first saw Messi, did you already know he was a little bit special?
He made a difference. That’s why he rose so young. Now he’s the best player in the world, and stands out above all the others. And he’s still got a lot of years of football left in him and he can spend them at Barça.
Messi and you both wore number ‘10’ and served similar roles
Yes, but we have nothing to do with each other. He made the difference.
You scored a lot of goals as a youth player at Barça and also made assists. You’re quite a striker!
I used to score and make assists before but that has nothing to do with the football I play now. I liked playing as an attacking midfielder or striker when I was at Barça, I felt really comfortable there.
I understand you were almost always team captain
Yes, I was at Barça for eight years and I think I was captain for seven of them. My colleagues respected me and my character never let me down. I have many defects, but my character is one of my good points”.
In 2000 you laid the first stone of our home, the Ciutat Esportiva. Do you remember?
Of course! With Ramallets. I took a penalty. I was lucky to be there. It’s funny to now be training at the Ciutat Esportiva. I’ve been there and I saw a lot of people I know.
What’s it like to be a youth footballer?
You have to enjoy it from a young age. Then, as a professional, apart from that, you also have to compete, look after yourself more and be more constant.
Jordi Alba is back home, having followed in the footsteps of the likes of Piqué, Cesc and Cuenca. Delighted to be wearing the Barça shirt again and motivated by the challenges of this new stage of his life, he spoke to Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat.
How did your transfer to Barça happen?
I found out just before the last game at the European Championship. I was very happy after being away for so long. To be honest, I’m very proud.
You know exactly where you’ve come
Yes, I know a lot of people here, directors, players, coaches … and those are a lot of points in my favour.
You have said dozens of time that you wanted to come back to the best club in the world
Because of the club and because of the way this team plays. I think Barça has the best players, has the fans’ favourite playing philosophy and has other things that no other team has.
And what Jordi Alba will do first for Barça is work hard
You can have better or worse games, but I am always ready to make every effort in the world. This chance has come because of what I have demonstrated in all the years that I’ve been playing football.
Were you surprised by your performances at the Euros?
No. Of course I never imagined that I’d score a goal in the final but I think this tournament reflected the hard work that I was talking about.
If they had told me six years ago that Jordi Alba would be a left back I’d never have believed it
Not six years ago, not even one, not even me. Emery had a lot to do with the decision. It gave me the chance to go to the European Championship and to come back to Barça as a full back or winger. It’s changed me a lot. A year ago, I’d never have imagined I’d go to the European Championship as a full back.
How did it happen?
The first time was against Werder Bremen. I came on as sub. At half time, Emery said I’d be left back. I’d never played in that position, but it meant I started playing more and more, and now I like it a lot.
Have you asked to play in any other positions for Barça?
No. Tito and his team know me perfectly well and know where I play. I don’t think I have to tell them where I can play, they already know.
There are lot of much admired ‘small’ players in football these days, yet you had to leave the club for that very reason
There were some very tall players. I think I was the shortest and had to fight against that. I went to Cornellà, I kept believing in myself and won the chance to go to a club like Valencia. Sacrifice, consistency and self-belief are the key to being a new player at Barça.
You decided to go to Cornellà
It was a good chance to discover that everything doesn’t just start and end with the Barça youth system. They looked after me and I learned a lot. In those two years I realised that one day I could make it back to a top team.
How did it feel to play against Barça?
They were very special games. I couldn’t sleep the night before. Those things didn’t happen in the first division, but I remember how they did when I first left Barça for Cornellà.
The vice president for sport at Barça, Josep M. Bartomeu, has used your case as an example
We’re examples for smaller players, but each case is different. I think Cesc and Piqué left under different circumstances. The club didn’t need me. With Tello and Cuenca around, I felt I was being ignored. Smaller players have to work hard and need to be believed in, that’s good for them.
Barça youth team, Cornellà, Valencia and Nàstic in 2B. Are you arriving at your best?
Yes, no doubt about that. But this might be a happy time, there have been bad times too. I have had fun but I’ve also shed a lot of tears.
Do you still have dreams that you want to come true?
I want to win titles. I think we’re lucky that Barça is so big right now, and playing so well and winning titles. I’m here now and I’ll try to win us even more.
“A year ago I never imagined I’d be Spain’s left back at the European Championship”