Former Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid and Liverpool player Luis Garcia opens up on how footballers adapt to life after retirement and what he misses about the professional game.
Jun 13, 2019, 11.29 PM IST
When the day-to-day rush of training and playing for your team is no longer around, you need to try to find something to fill the gap, says ex-Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid midfielderLuis Garcia
“You’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years and suddenly you have to stop and start thinking about what you’ll do next,” says Garcia. “You had the routine of getting up in the morning, training, eating, resting. I also miss the banter in the dressing room. And the competitive feeling from playing games. You try to find it another way. Some people run marathons or play golf. But you’ll never have the same competitive feeling as you had in football.”
Born in the Catalan town of Badalona in 1978, Garcia came through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy and made his LaLiga1l2l3 debut on loan at Valladolid before returning to the first team at the Camp Nou. The intelligent midfielder also represented LaLiga sides Tenerife and Racing Santander, as well as clubs in England, India, Greece, Mexico and Australia, while being capped 20 times at senior level by Spain.
The 40-year-old Spanish winger, who is now a LaLiga ambassador, says retiring from football brought incredible challenges and changes in his life but working to help spread the message of Spanish football kept the great feeling alive.
“To be a La Liga ambassador is first of all an honour for a former player, and also a responsibility,” he says. “The most important thing is to bring the values and philosophy of LaLiga everywhere we go around the world. It is fantastic to attend events like El Clasico viewing parties. The first time was in Delhi, with 12,000 fans. Just the way they enjoy a game like that is unbelievable. For them it’s great to spend time with former LaLiga players and hear about our careers.”
Garcia also stays connected with the game week-to-week by working as a pundit for LaLiga’s international TV service. “To be on the other side of the camera is very different, not easy at all!” he says. “As a player, the relationship with the media isn’t always the best. Now you’re on the other side and you have to say what you see. That’s not easy when you know what it’s like from the other side. But if you want to do it well, you have to say what you think.” Garcia has also found the time to study a UEFA course covering the business of football. “It’s not so much about coaching but more the other side of football, away from the pitch,” he says.
“It’s like being back at school. They give you a different perspective on football. When you’re a player you play, you go home… you don’t think about things like logistics, security, ticketing, marketing. So, you learn a lot about that kind of stuff.”
It might be three years now since Luis Garcia’s playing career ended but his connection to the game, and to LaLiga, is stronger than ever.
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