SPAIN UNDER-21S | VALLEJO
“My objective is to be back at Real Madrid next year”
Currently on loan at Zaragoza from Real Madrid, Jesús Vallejo has two aims: to convince Benítez and gain promotion with Zaragoza.
How are things going with the Under-21s?
I’ve felt comfortable right from the first day. I think everyone who comes along settles in quite quickly and easily. For the first few days, you get the usual ‘initiation’-type jokes but little by little you build up a good relationship with the rest.
What memories do you have of lifting the Under-19 European championship trophy?
You can’t really see me much in the images because I’m covered by my team mates, but that didn’t matter. I felt very proud – especially for the team, and for all of the hard work we had done.
Did you think of anyone when you lifted the trophy?
Yes, my Grandad. When I was a boy, I didn’t like football that much; I was more interested in cars and it was him that started my interest in football.
You’re with the Under-21s now, but you will return to the Under-19s to help them with their defence of the trophy. Is the motivation the same?
It’s probably even greater. I’m delighted to go back if that is what Luis de la Fuente has in mind. It will be a new challenge.
Have you had the chance to speak to Del Bosque?
I haven’t spoken to him personally. I’ve still got to win my place with the Under-21s and I’m still technically a player with the Under -19s; I’m not thinking any further ahead than that.
Which players did you admire in the national team?
When I was a midfielder, I’d study Xabi Alonso and Xavi. Little by little I’ve dropped back into a deeper position; I always say I’ll probably end up as the goalkeeper...
What advice would you give young kids who quit studying to focus on their football career?
I’d tell them they are making a big mistake. The world of football is complicated and you never know what might happen. You may get injured, so it’s important to have some kind of base to fall back on.
What was it like when you signed for Real Madrid?
At the start it was quite hard to believe it was true, because I hadn’t heard any rumours, but bit by bit it started to sink in. I just felt an enormous feeling of happiness, It was a moment to celebrate.
Did you get a chance to talk to Benítez?
Yes, when I signed I was able to talk to him and he told me to focus solely on my club and we will talk again after the season.
Is going back to Real Madrid a long-term or a short-term objective?
I see it as my objective for next season. It will always be there but I don’t see why I shouldn’t try to be with them next season – while understanding the challenge I am setting myself. I won’t gain anything by sitting on my laurels, the first thing I have to do is help Zaragoza gain promotion back to the Liga BBVA.
What message would you like to send to Madrid fans?
I’d tell them that I am a very laid-back guy and hopefully next season I will be with them to defend the white shirt.
What is your opinion on Sergio Ramos playing ‘el Clásico’ under the influence of painkillers?
Ramos is every inch an example of honour and self-respect. Deciding to play, even with painkilling injections is an honourable gesture. I think I’d probably do the same.