Ricardo Lopez (50 years) is Atletico’s quarry and then he won the Premier with United. Among the memories of him as a footballer, analyze tonight’s duel at Old Trafford while traveling from Barcelona to Madrid on the train. Ambassador of LaLiga, on Sunday he was in the Camp Nou box, at Barcelona-Osasuna.
-How was your signing for United? He arrived after a great season at Valladolid and the call of the National Team for the World Cup in Japan and Korea.
-All very fast. I decided to go there, take advantage of the opportunity. It was difficult. There was Barthez, world champion. Then Carroll, second goalkeeper. And I the third. I didn’t go with the band of playing, but I went and fought, even though I had a few minutes, matches. I got to know a different language, a culture, a Premier club from within. It will stay with me all my life.
-He played with Ferdinand, Van Nistelrooy and Beckham in 2002-03. With Scholes, Piqué, Forlán and Cristiano in 2004-05…
-There was a slightly Latin branch in the locker room and, at lunchtime, we divided ourselves into two tables. On the one hand the English and, on the other, us. Things were going well until one day we lost 4-1 to City and Ferguson went into a rage. The next day, he forbade speaking Spanish in the locker room (laugh). That you had to speak English and that he no longer wanted to see two tables, one of foreigners and the other of pure English.
-For more togetherness.
– Well it worked (laugh). That changed everything a bit, really. We were able to overcome Arsenal by 12 points.
-Ferguson when he was angry… He once threw a boot at Beckham in the locker room, right?
Nerd. She didn’t throw it at him. Ferguson, in a speech, blamed Beckham for an action and Beckham told him that he was wrong. Then Ferguson slammed a boot on the ground in anger. And it flew out and hit David in the face, who took his hand and saw that he had made a little blood… he went into a rage. We had to separate them, huh.
-Yes. But the blood did not reach the river. The only one was the droplet that ran down Beckham’s face…
-He would later go to Real Madrid.
Physically he was a wonder. And that is, perhaps, one of his great secrets. He was galactic in his physical ability. He could play you two games at a stratospheric level. And then the quality of it. The centers, the charisma…
-Tell me about that Cristiano Ronaldo from United that you met in 2004. Was he already so competitive?
-Indeed. It already was. And that’s why he signed him to United. Very skilled, with a lot of self-confidence. He dared anything.
-You could already see then that he would be the footballer he has been, what he is?
-Yes. She had something different. With the ball he already made a difference.
-He comes from making a hat-trick this weekend against Tottenham, in the Premier. It is ‘black beast’ for Atleti. 25 goals in 36 games.
-He only wins you a game. The important thing is that he does not get the ball. Because if he does it in danger zones he does a lot of damage. If he catches your back, he is lethal.
-The first leg of this tie ended 1-1. How do you see the return?
-Atleti have no complexes. He has several doubts but enough entity to face anyone. Manchester is not at its best moment and, I think, for the rojiblancos it is a good opportunity to pass.
-Old Trafford will press…
-When he roars, he does it a lot. It’s amazing. It is one of the stadiums that can impose the most on you. More than Anfield, even. There are twice as many people. Almost 80,000 people who, when they shout, sneaks up on you.
-De Gea, Oblak. How do you see that duel?
-Oblak, although this season has not been so good, he is one of the best in the world. He has had three big mistakes, but more are thrown at him and all the goalkeepers have them. We are not machines, we are human beings, we can fail. David (De Gea) is also one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Without a doubt, it will be a key duel in the match.