Our Russian correspondent Vitaly Suvorov spoke to Albert Riera about his time at Liverpool, the Premier League and playing under Rafa Benitez.
Was playing for Liverpool the highlight of your career?
Sure. This is the best club I have played at. Their history, their fans… But in Galatasaray I felt more important as a player. And I won titles there.
What are Gerrard, Alonso and Torres like in real life?
You try to learn the best from every teammate. And if you’re talking about these three guys, you learn that the character is a very important part of every footballer. [You have] to be strong in hard moments. [You have to] be calm and keep working.
Would it be fair to say that you’ve got some issues with Rafa Benitez?
Well, the only problem was the media. I was frustrated when I was not included in the Spain squad for the World Cup in 2010 because I hadn’t had a lot of playing time in the Premier League for like two months. So [journalists] put some words in my mouth saying that the person who was responsible for me not being included in the Spain squad was Rafa. After that I did another interview and said that I have to be my first critic, [not Rafa]. But the media was not interested [in listening to me] anymore.
I have a normal relationship with Rafa. I meet him from time to time like at Pepe Reina’s wedding, or some family parties. Rafa and Pepe also share the same agent. I had signed with him, too, when I was 18, but I’ve never had an agent since then because I was scared of them. I’m the one who manages my career with the help of my lawyer. I also manage my brother’s career. His name is Sito and he had played at La Masia until he turned 19. Now he plays in Kazakstan.
What was your best moment in Liverpool?
There were many! I’d say the day of my presentation, and also when we won against Real Madrid at Anfield. We scored four goals! There were also some bad moments, like when Man United scored that goal in extra time and we lost the title to them in 2009. I also remember the day when Roy Hodgson came to Liverpool. He said that he wanted his team to be 90% British, so all the foreigners felt like we’d be having problems in Liverpool and I signed for Olympiakos.
Would you say that the Premier League is the best league in the world?
Probably. But other leagues are not bad, they’re just different. I have enjoyed playing in France (it’s more physical there), in Spain (more technical), in Italy (more tactical), in Greece and in Turkey. But yes, England has the mix of everything and the rythm of the game is amazing. I always say that one thing is to do something at 1km/h. Everybody can do it. But doing something at 100 km/h is much more difficult.