November 20, 2019

Juanfran: I never imagined that I’d play in Brazil, but I’m 100 percent settled

Ex Barcelona defender Dani Alves and Ex Atletico defender Juanfran, now teammates at Sao Paolo FC in the Brazilian Serie A

Juanfran Torres is feeling settled and comfortable in Brazil now, and he’s loving every minute of his latest chapter.

The right-back joined Sao Paulo this past summer after a prolonged stay at Atletico Madrid and, despite being 34, he still feels as though he has a lot to offer.

He sat with MARCA to discuss the differences between life in Brazil and Spain.

How did you end up here? How did your signing happen?

It was because of Rai. He’s a legend here. I knew the history, they’re a very big club and have won world titles. I knew they hadn’t won trophies for a few years and I thought I wanted to come here and enter their history.

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Did you ever imagine that you’d end up playing in Brazil?

Honestly, no. I’ve had teammates like Diego Costa, Filipe Luis, Diego Ribas and Joao Miranda, then at Real Madrid I had Ronaldo [Nazario] and Roberto Carlos. I’ve played with a lot of Brazilian teammates but never thought I’d play here.

How are you adapting? And your family?Is it different to Spain?

There are a lot of differences, but some similarities too. Brazil is quite close to Spain. We have similar things and the language isn’t too different, neither is the food, and the people are humble and hardworking

My family have 100 percent adapted, and that’s what worried me the most. One thing you said you were always missing was international experience.

Was that what motivated you to come here?

Yeah, there were other clubs in South America who wanted me but there was something special here in Sao Paulo. I was on holiday in Alicante and was already looking forward to coming to Brazil.

What differences have you seen between Spanish and Brazilian football?

It’s said that Brazilian football is more competitive. What differences have you noticed?

Yeah, it’s more competitive. The strongest team now are Flamengo but there’s also Palmeiras, Gremio, us and Corinthians. There are a lot more too, so it’s not like in Spain where it’s more about Real Madrid and Barcelona and, in recent years, Atletico Madrid. That’s the biggest difference.

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You once said that most attackers in Brazil are like Neymar. How has that been?

I have to think much more to stop them. I’ve had some battles with Ney, he’s incredible, and here there are a lot of players like him. In Spain and Europe, it’s different but here it’s more of a ‘let’s go for you’ approach. I handle it and the ball better. There are a lot of players like Ney and I like that because it’s a challenge for me. They’re 10 years younger than me, so I have to know how to handle those situations.

You came to Brazil and, in the end, have become a more complete player at the end of your career.

I had learnt things in Madrid because Cholo Diego Simeone had taught me everything about defending. But I’m learning every day here and I will until I retire.

Have you considered doing a Dani Alves, converting your position and becoming more of a winger again?

No, I really like my position and I think it’s where I perform best. I can play well in other positions, but in the long run this is where I perform best.

You don’t play in every game. Is that something you had spoken to the club about?

I was playing a lot but I had a problem, so I didn’t get involved as much. Patience is a virtue and my time will come again. I’ll be an important player because that’s what I’ve come here to do. Whether I play 10 minutes or 90, I’m a professional. That’s not something I’m going to chance now.

After eight years with Simeone, you came here and there was a change of coach before long. Are you surprised by how often the coach changes in Brazil?

You see it a lot in football. The Bayern Munich coach also lasted four or five games. There’s no peace in football, less every day. Less patience. Everyone wants to win.

Source: Marca

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