An interview with Valencia CF forward Roberto Soldado from UEFA.com in which the team's new goal scorer reflects on his new role as the hero.
The first thing you notice about Roberto Soldado is the way, when he crosses
his arms, his biceps look like they are going to rip through his designer
shirt. The second is that he loves to talk in depth about his profession – and
he is terribly good at it.
It has been a tumultuous summer for Valencia CF's No9. He did not make
Spain's UEFA EURO 2012 squad and he had the chance to leave Mestalla, yet when
Valencia offered him a new deal, he signed up as soon as he could find a pen.
"The two years until now at Valencia have been just fantastic," he
said. "Valencia is my city, where I was born, and playing here is one of
the greatest things that has happened in my life. When the club gave me the
opportunity of five more years I didn't think for more than a second. Valencia
have ambition. We're a young team that intends to win important things and I'll
be doing my best to make sure that happens."
Soldado took the long way home, joining Real Madrid CF and moving to CA
Osasuna and Getafe CF before arriving at Mestalla in 2010. The then 25-year-old
had to follow one of Valencia's all-time heroes, an added pressure he has never
talked about until now.
"When I came here I never expressed it openly, as in 'replacing David
Villa'," Soldado said. "But I was really conscious that if things
didn't go well that tag was going to weigh very heavily for a long time – not
just in my own mind but for the press and fans. Growing up I was fixated by all
the center-forwards who were around at the time, so now, to have my name on the
shirt, to be the '9' for the team where I grew up and to be captain is a source
"You're out on the street, you see kids with a Valencia shirt with your
name – it's a massive motivation and reminds you of your responsibility. It's
one of the greatest things that can happen to a player."
When asked about the forwards he modeled himself on, the names trip
enthusiastically off his tongue. "I favored the finishers, the goal
scorers. [Iván] Zamorano – I loved him when he was at Madrid. Jimmy [Floyd]
Hasselbaink at Atlético, Ronaldo when he was at Barcelona. They really were the
best of the best.
"If I look across the Champions League the guy I most look forward to
watching is Wayne Rooney. Previously, he was more of a center-forward – a goal
scorer – but now he's the type who defends a lot, whose game is growing."
There's something in Soldado's make-up – his attitude to pressure, the
timing of his movement, the special stuff of which champions are made – that
chimes well with the UEFA Champions League: he has scored 12 goals in 17 games
in the tournament.
"This is the optimum competition, the most beautiful you can play
in," he said. "You feel the importance because every weekend in your
domestic championship, it's what you strive for. You're defending the colors of
your team against all of Europe. I just hope the ratio of goals I get in the
Champions League stays the same and that they mean something important for the