Have you watched European football grow and got any impressions of United?
“Yes, just around this time when I was still quite young. Although we haven’t watched football all week, because I don’t think there is as much of it on TV as it is today, sometimes with three games a week. But those were the weekends where we really lived and breathed football. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, especially Saturday and Sunday. It was about getting up in the morning and the first thing you heard on TV was the footy. If it wasn’t our own league, it was English football as there was a lot of Premier League coverage in South America. This was the moment United did it, so well. It was their heyday. They were doing fine and winning trophies and so on. It wasn’t just about sitting there watching football. You knew it was on TV, with English and Italian football featured the most, so football was in the air! However, we weren’t just glued to the TV. No, I would have gone to play football all the time to play outside. But I realized that all the games were on TV and that at night there would be all the highlights of the weekend games. And so, that’s when I would watch it a bit more.
You left Uruguay for A league at only 20 years old – what memories do you have from this period of your life? What were the easy parts of adapting to Europe and what were the difficult parts?
“I always talk about that period, and that was what I had always hoped for, to come and play in Europe. And one of the things I had particularly thought about and hoped to do at the time was to go play in the Soccer, in part to do with my family background and my grandfather’s Italian heritage. My father always introduced me to that Italian ancestry, and my grandfather had always wanted to see his children and grandchildren play football. So it was something that attracted you, going to play and live in Italy. But when you arrive in Italy, it’s almost like you’re still in that dream, the dream you haven’t woken up from yet. It’s like you’ve accomplished something that you really want and desire. So you start your first season and your first year there, you don’t come back to earth. And it’s the same the second year too, because you’re still not that aware of it. It is as if you are in this wheel that keeps spinning and spinning as you search for your dream. Then you realize it and suddenly you live it. But over time you start to grow as a person, you know, as a family you start to have new experiences and you start to realize the distance involved. This distance which separates you a little from your family and your friends and which separates you for so long from your close relations, your roots, your country and your customs. And that’s where you start to feel it and miss things a bit more. I’ve always done my best to get settled in places really quickly, but settling there is always quite difficult. Whether or not we have similar cultures, settling somewhere and getting used to any kind of change is always difficult. And as time goes on, at least in my case, it starts to get complicated. The longer you are away from home, the more and more difficult it becomes to be on an equal footing. That’s why I say, at first it was one thing, and then you start to miss a thing or two. I guess I’ve probably settled down pretty well and maybe still chasing that dream, that desire to get involved at the highest level in football and stay there. And for better or for worse, I’ve always been there, competing and giving my best.