12 Things You Don't Know About Me

To read in English, click here.

12 Things You Don't Know About Me

To read in English, click here.

1. At Manchester City I had a wonderful time.

And I tell you, it was a success any way you look at it.

People say it was a tough first season, but it was a learning process. When I came to England, the goalkeeper's job was to kick the ball as far as possible. The teams from the middle of the table down played with the long ball and then went to dispute the second ball.

Pep wanted me to contribute to the game. He had to play short, show me to receive the return pass. If there was no room on the left, then I would play on the right to start the attack from there. We were trying to change the game.

There was a lot of buzz around that. People didn't like it very much.

Of course, with the changes we had some problems. We also had six or seven players on the team who already knew they were going to leave next season, so they knew they weren't going to be part of the long-term project. But it is a change that was known to take time. For me, it was very enriching to play in such a team.

My four seasons there were wonderful. I felt valued by the club. He had a great relationship with Pep. My children learned English, and we also grew up as a family there.

The press? I was never interested in what they wrote. No way.

I guess people remember different things. When I look back on that period, my memory is that I played in two League Cup finals and two Community Shields, and I won them all.

2. I spent three hours a day in the truck with my father.

Being a child who grew up in Greater Santiago – which is large – he needed an hour and a half to get to training. My father would pick me up from school and I would go to the back seat, to sleep or to eat fruit or a sandwich to arrive with energy.

That's why I trained so hard. My father was sacrificing three precious hours of his day for me to be there, so the least he could do was work, right?

By then I already had this great dream of playing for a big team, like Barcelona. When I told my classmates, they just laughed.

My teacher looked at me as if to say, Yes, of course.

But I was very strong mentally. In Chile there are talents everywhere: fast strikers, quality strikers. The difference is in the head. In my case I managed to turn the negatives into positives, get up when the others didn't get up, and I realized that very quickly.

So I decided I was just going to make it, and I wanted to reward my father for the effort.

Somehow, it's still what I want.

3. I almost got kicked out of Colo-Colo.

When I was 15 I played a youth tournament organized by a famous sports brand. The winner of the regional stage had to play the finals in Europe and there were scouts from many of the big clubs. It was a great window opportunity for all of us.

We reached the regional final and I played goalkeeper. I had already discovered that running after the ball was not for me. I liked the added responsibility of saving shots, and unlike a lot of guys, if I made a big mistake, I could handle it. But that day I had to suffer a big one.

Well, the match is 0-0, last minute. They take a corner kick. I go out to get the ball.

But it escapes me.

They make us the goal. They beat us.

And then 20 supertalented kids aren't going to go to Europe because of me.

I felt like the scapegoat. Everyone wanted me, even the coaches. They wanted to kick me out of the club.

But there was a technician, Julio Rodríguez, who had worked a lot with me. He had taught me how to play with my feet, just like I did at City. He was years ahead. And he said, "If he goes, so do I."

That made the club understand that it was going to be a mistake to let me go. In 2003, when I was 19 years old, I made my debut in the first team, where I played for three years. My goodbye was the second final of the 2006 Apertura, against the University of Chile, in which I saved two penalties and we won the title. That would never have happened if someone hadn't taken the risk to defend me.

So thanks for that, Julio.

4. At Real Sociedad I scored a goal.

We were in the Second Division, playing at home against Gimnàstic, and we had gone three games without winning. When they gave us a free kick near the area, 0-0 at the end of the first half, no one knew who was going to take it.

I used to stay with some of the players after practice to practice free throws. He almost did it as a joke. When I saw them throw and miss, I said: "No, look, this is kicked like this".

Sometimes he scored the goal.

And when they gave us that free kick, Diego Rivas yelled at me: “Claudio! You throw this one."

And I said, "No, are you crazy?"

But he insisted. So I left the goal and started walking to the other side of the court. I could feel the murmur throughout the stadium. "This is crazy, what is he doing?"

That made him go with even more determination. And he thought, "If I cross the middle of the field, I'm going to score the goal." When I took the ball, I had this particular feeling. This he had already done in training. I had already seen this movie.

The whistle blows, I hit him and… goal.

Amazing. Incredible. But now comes the big problem.

What I do?

That was the only time I had no idea how to act on a court. Do you save a penalty? Perfect. Do you stop a shot? That's normal. But scoring a goal was just…strange. How do I celebrate? Do I run to the corner? Shall I do a dance?

The only thing I remember is my teammates pouncing on me. By the time he had returned to the arch, he was dead. He couldn't even breathe! The only thing I prayed for was not to have the ball not reach my hands.

5. Griezmann parked his car at my house.

LOL. She wasn't old enough to drive it.

At Real Sociedad, with Antoine we became very close. When I met him he was only 16 years old, but you could see that he had great potential, and our mission was to help him show it. I invited him home to meet my family, and every time I felt like he was doing something wrong, I tried to get him to focus again. He was just a kid who wanted to have fun. At one point he bought a car, even though he couldn't drive. He had nowhere to leave it, either, so he left it at my house.

He stayed there for months. Sometimes she would come, sit down, put on some music and listen to it. Then she would leave and return to her house. That was all.

Today it makes me very happy to see what kind of player he has become. We have a great friendship, and every time I have to confront him I always tell him the same thing.

"Today is not going to be your day."

6. I felt as if Barça were made for me.

They say that it is very difficult for goalkeepers to play at Barcelona. For me it was just the opposite.

You had to be a goalkeeper, a libero, participate in the game. This was new to the others, but thanks to Julio's work in Colo-Colo, I had been playing that way since he was a child. I also felt that he had the personality to handle the pressure.

When you go out to play with 100,000 people, you remember the work that got you there: the days when you were cold, the days when you were hungry, the games played on the cement, the saves in the paddocks, the hours and hours in the truck… and now you're here. Green grass. luxury companions. I just told myself: “Now enjoy it”.

Which, for me, means having fun and also competing at the highest level. That will never change.

What came next? Eight consecutive undefeated fences. I had this voice in my head telling me: “This club is made for you”. I was so confident that not even God was going to be able to score a goal for me. I think he is still the last Barcelona goalkeeper to win a Zamora trophy for the most clean sheets in the Spanish League.

By the way, one thing I discovered at Barça was that the top players, the very top ones – Xavi, Iniesta, Messi – are just normal people. You go there thinking that they must live on another planet, but they are simple guys. There are others that are much more serious than they seem. For example, Dani Alves. He looks like he is singing and dancing all day. But when it was time to work, Dani was the first to arrive, Dani was the last to leave. You went to the gym and who you met… Dani.

7. I never had a problem with Ter Stegen.

He played in the Cups, I played in the League. The press made a big deal out of it, and some said that we were enemies, bad coexistence, but that wasn't true, not at all.

We had talked about it with the coach, and I understood that they wanted to invest in the young goalkeeper. I never knocked on the door to ask why they didn't put me in. He simply prepared me to the fullest and I faced the circumstances that presented themselves. And I was very proud to play –and win– La Liga, which is the basis for a club like Barça.

I think Marc and I made each other raise the level of the other. If I don't play, my job is to support those who do, because a team is more than 11 players. In the end, we won the treble together.

That, to me, made us both winners.

8. My Achilles tendon rupture was a good thing.

At first I felt very helpless, especially since it happened right at the start of my third season with City. But I got over it quickly. I started to focus on my return, on filling my head with positive thoughts.

Almost a year later, he was back. First game: Liverpool in the Community Shield.

That meant almost 80,000 people at Wembley.

I had to act well.

And I felt amazing, I had an outstanding game. Perhaps it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't had my mind so focused on recovery, if I hadn't prepared myself well, if I hadn't always listened to the doctors, or if I hadn't always had the confidence of Pep, who knew of all the hard work what he had been doing… But all these things had happened. So I was confident. "There's no reason why it shouldn't work out"

The match went to penalties, I saved the decisive one. When they took the photo of the winners, I was in it.

9. He may continue as a coach.

Once Pep called me and told me that I could be a good coach. That meant a lot to me.

10. The Copa del Rey title was super special.

I really wanted to win something with Betis. And my kids were able to enjoy it.

When I won titles with Barcelona, ​​not everyone had the notion of what their father was doing. My son, Mateo, was very young and my youngest daughter, Emma, ​​had just been born. Instead, when we were doing the Olympic lap this year, all my children were there, and all four of them knew what it meant. The feeling is hard to describe. It's like your happiness as a footballer and as a father will combine and multiply.

My wife, Carla, and our four children have always been the most emotional part of my life. Football is my job, they are the rest. San Sebastián will always belong to our second daughter, Maite. My Barcelona highlight will never be a title, but Emma's birth.

They are the ones that make me feel complete. Without them, everything else collapses.

In Seville we are very happy. This is my third season at Betis, and I will continue as long as I feel good. When it doesn't, I'll be the first to say it's time to retire.

11. We knew we could win the Copa América.

The defeat against Brazil in the 2014 World Cup left us with a bitter taste, but we could also feel that something big was approaching. We had an incredible generation, players from Barça, Arsenal, Juventus.

We were under pressure, especially me as captain. We couldn't waste this generation. We had to win…something.

When the Cup came in 2015, and at home, it was our moment.

Luckily, we reached the final against Argentina. And again, a consecration on penalties. I think the key is the mental part. Stats mean nothing if you can't get inside your opponent's head. You have to distract him, make him feel nervous, make him feel the pressure. That's how we won the final.

12. I cried when we won the second Copa América.

Actually, I wasn't going to go to the Copa América Centenario in the United States. He was injured, and our youngest daughter, Emma, ​​had a serious health problem.

My first two matches were a disaster. He was out of shape and distracted. My body was there in the field, but my mind was at home with my family. They scored goals for me everywhere and I remember that in the second game, they scored a goal for me and I thought: “No, no, no. I'm not ready to compete."

I felt very fragile. They told me everything on television programs and on social networks. He was still the captain, but people said he had to go to the bank before it was too late.

At one point, I understood that I had to pull myself together. All my life I had managed to get up every time I was on the floor. So I started thinking about my responsibilities as captain. We had a chance to reach another final. We had a fantastic team that deserved to win more. I knew that if I managed to live up to my possibilities, I was going to manage to reverse the situation. And I said to myself: Enough. Enough.

We won the quarterfinals and the semifinal with our fence undefeated. The final was against Argentina, and again it went to penalties. I had seen games of the players in pressure situations, because when the pressure is so strong, the players tend to repeat what they have been doing. I remember Lucas Biglia's penalty, the last one. I'd seen the last 8 he'd kicked, so when I saw him start from half court, I knew. She had already made the stop before he executed.

A few moments later, we were champions again. Two titles in two years.

As we ran around the field celebrating, I began to cry. As a father, I had been thousands of miles away from my daughter. As a player, he had been the captain of an entire nation of 18 million Chileans. It had started badly. I had been crucified. The pressure had been enormous.

Now all this weight was off me, and I just collapsed.

Never forget that footballers are also human beings.

A day later, I flew back home with my wife and children. Emma is fine, thank God. We celebrate with a family dinner. Nothing special, as they say. Although for me, that was the most special thing in the world.

This article was originally published on theplayertribune as 12 Things You Don't Know About Me.

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