Vermaelen speaks frankly about life at FC Barcelona / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

[[DES_1]]Thomas Vermaelen is into his second season as an FC Barcelona player. Injury meant he hardly played at all last term, but all that has changed since the summer. He’s back and playing an important role both for club and country. In an interview with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.com, the Belgian defender reveals a bit more about who he is.

You’ll be 30 in a few days’ time. Are you where you expected to be both professionally and personally?
“It’s hard to say. I can’t predict the future. If they had told me ten years ago that I’d be playing for FC Barcelona, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m very happy with how my career has gone and the clubs I’ve played for”.

You’ve been in Barcelona for a year. How’s your life here?
“My life in Barcelona is great. I’ve settled in. I needed a little time to adapt. I was injured for a year and that wasn’t easy but me and my family feel very happy. The weather is incredible. It wasn’t so good in the other countries I’ve lived in but the climate is perfect here”.You come to a new club and want to prove your worth, but you can’t because of an injury. It was tough
What is Thomas Vermaelen like in close-up?
“People who know me say I’m quiet and laid back. That I don’t like to make a fuss. I try to stay calm and not get angry”.

You had a great preseason and the season has started well. How are you feeling?
“The preseason was very important. For any player it’s fundamental to get through it without any problems. And that’s why my start to the league has been better”.

What was your first year at Barça like?
“It was very difficult for a lot of reasons but mainly because I was suffering from injury. You come to a new club and want to prove your worth, but you can’t because of an injury. And I had to adapt to new things. A new life, new coach, new city. It was tough.”

What did you do for away games?
“I watched all of the away games. I tried to watch as many Barça games as I could, to get to know the Liga better. It’s very different to the English Premiership. I watched Liga games because I wanted to get to know the players and teams and therefore adapt more quickly”.

The game against Deportivo la Coruña was an important one for you last season because you made your comeback. How did that feel?
“It was an incredible day. It was a very special match, and very intense for me because I was returning after a long injury. Getting to play at least one game before the season ended was very important for me”.

Now all that is in the past. What are your hopes for the new season?
“It’ll be a very long season. The ambitions are the same. We won the treble last season and we know it won’t be easy to do it again, but we’ll try to. We have the same team. Our ambitions are intact and we’ll do all we can, game by game, and see what happens”.

Do you have any special targets this season?
“I want to play as many games as possible. I’m at a big club and it’s not easy to get a game. But I want to improve as a player and play as much as I can”.

People often compare the football played by Ajax, Arsenal and FC Barcelona. You’ve played for all three. Are they that similar?
“Yes, it’s a similar philosophy. They’re teams that want to play football, to avoid physicality and long balls, just keep the ball on the ground and try to score as many goals as possible, creating lots of chances”.I remember that I sometimes played left-back. It was at Ajax that I switched to centre-back
Where do you prefer to play?
“My favourite position is centre of defence, that’s where I’ve played most games. When I was young, about 10, I played in midfield. I remember that I sometimes played left-back. It was at Ajax that I switched to centre-back”.

Who is the hardest player to mark?
“There are quite a few. At Arsenal I came up against some great forwards like Drogba and Rooney. I’ve played in the Champions League against Messi and he’s very hard to mark”.

Who is the best player you have ever played with?
“That’s easy. Messi”.

Questions and answers

You are 1.83 metres tall. In Belgium you wore number 3, and now you’ve got number 23. What is it with you and the number 3?
“Pure coincidence. I have no obsession with numbers and don’t have favourites.” 

What was the first thing you bought with your wages?
“I don’t remember. I think I just put it in the bank. I don’t go out and spend money like crazy”.

Which players do you go out with for dinner or a drink?
With players that speak English. Rakitic or Ter Stegen, who lives very near to me in Castelldefels”.

How’s the language going?
Much better. I understand a lot of things, but not enough yet for an interview or a fluent conversation”.

What’s your finest quality?
“I always stay calm in difficult situations. I’m a very relaxed person”.

And your biggest defect?
“Perhaps making life decisions. That’s not my forte”.

Dou you have any pre-match rituals?
“I always put my right foot on the pitch first. A lot of players do that”.

Who makes you laugh?
“My son. He’s two years old and he’s trying to talk, and picks things up...”

Who are the funniest players at Barça?
“Piqué and Alves”.

An unforgettable holiday?
“I few years ago I went to Ibiza with a group of friends. I loved it”.

Where do you like to travel?
“I was in America on holiday this summer, so I’d like to go to visit Asia. It’s a different culture. I’ve been there with the team but I’d like to go there on my own and get to know the countries and their cultures better”.

Can you say anything in Catalan?
“Visca el Barça”. “Bon dia” is Catalan, isn’t it?

When Rakitic came to Barcelona he said he loved crema catalana. Is there anything you like about the food in Barcelona?
“The food is really good. Tapas and ham, especially”.

Complete the sentence. When I retire I want to...
“Play golf.  There aren’t many players here that are golfers. I love it”.

Do you use social networks?
“Yes, sometimes”.