Between London, in the south of England, and Manchester and Liverpool, in the north, is Leicester, a city that does not reach half a million inhabitants (It exceeds 350,000, like Bilbao or Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain) and that one day he revealed himself with a fox on the shield to ‘hunt’ all the giants of English football to become the least expected champion of all time. In the UK or outside its borders.
After a dream season and a long night at Vardy’s, Leicester decided to change their history and the ‘foxes’ joined the big game as an executioner and not as a victim until they were on their way to becoming a new giant of English football. From being the best ‘underdog’ in the history of football to settling in the top of the best League in Europe.
For this task they have an illustrious neighbor of Tenerife, Ayoze Pérez, who in full football maturity tries to be the sharpest fang of some ‘foxes’ who dream of returning to Europe.
The canary left Tenerife young and went from Second to accumulate successful matches and matches in the Premier. The selection call has not yet occurred but he does not give up. Work, goals and talent at the service of the most famous ‘fox’ in football. From the Midlands, and under harsher confinement than in Spain due to Covid-19, Ayoze serves AS.
– How did Ayoze Pérez start in football?
I start at five years old and I knew I wanted to play this. I was with my friends and enjoyed it. At twelve or thirteen I entered Tenerife and there, it is a different stage. Already there I began to consider other things. The objective was to step on the Helidoro. In youth I went on loan for a year to one of the first teams I started in and it was a positive year. When I returned, I grew a lot and went to Third with the subsidiary and at the end of the season, I was already training with the first team. With the club in Second B, I stuck my head out. Then I played in Second. I fulfilled my dream so desired by so many children on the island and how difficult it is. Due to the geographical situation, it is much more difficult to be seen by other eyes. In the end, the possibility is to play in the representative of your island. In the Canary Islands there has been a lot of talent along the way. I was able to go out and succeed.
“I fulfilled my dream so desired by so many children on the island and how difficult it is. Due to the geographical situation, it is much more difficult to be seen by other eyes”
– As you say, he triumphed in Tenerife and jumps to a whole Premier League, a rare change …
The usual thing would have been to go through a First in Spain and if you stand out and feel like it, go to the Premier. I always watched a lot of football when I was young and the Premier had something that caught my attention since I was a kid. It was an abrupt change. I had a year that marked me in Tenerife but it was changing country, language, style of football. I was very young. It was difficult but I think I adapted admirably, to be honest. I played almost everything at Newcastle, I was important, I scored goals “
– He had the option of Newcastle, but also of reaching Real Madrid or Barcelona, who offered him a subsidiary file …
That was the problem. The reason why I did not consider it. They are one of the biggest, but I think I had a better chance than being in the subsidiary, going back to the Second Division … I was looking for a bigger jump, I’m not telling you in their first teams, but something that would put me closer to the first level and compete with them. One way or another, it was not carried out. We all know that those two teams are tempting, but I think conditions could be better and that slowed me down. I was also close to Porto, which was not given for very small details. Newcastle came with everything and gave me what I deserved at the time.
– There he coincides with more Spaniards and a very loved one there, Rafa Benítez. How was it with the Madrilenian?
For Rafa I only have good words. It was very important in my time in Newcastle. He taught me a lot tactically and also mentally. To this day I still have contact with him. It is top notch
– Triumph in Tenerife, in Newcastle and Leicester appears
It was an important moment in my career. I stood out at Newcastle and Leicester came for me showing that they really loved me. It lasted two weeks, but I was the most expensive signing in its history. Then Tielemans came along, which was a few million more expensive. Expectations were high and they brought me in to make a difference. They wanted to achieve great things. We stay close to the Champions League and the club’s goal of continuing to grow is fulfilled every day.
– Speaking of transfers, have you ever thought of returning to LaLiga?
When I signed for Leicester I thought it might be time for a good move to Spain. For living here again, playing in LaLiga… At that moment I thought about it and I don’t think it would have been wrong. I had chances. The teams in Spain couldn’t afford what Newcastle wanted and it didn’t leave me many options. I opted for Leicester, a great option, don’t get me wrong. Valencia and Sevilla were interested and it would have been a difficult decision between returning and Leicester’s ambitious project.
– You already have a long career in England with great seasons but, to be honest, do you feel that you are fairly valued in Spain?
If you ask me to be sincere, I will be sincere. I feel like not. It is my feeling and everyone will have their own. I consider that I am not recognized as much as perhaps it should be. Taking him to the subject of the Selection is the best example. I don’t feel like I have the recognition that I deserve to have. In general, more of the same. I don’t think it is very recognized in Spain. It is like that and you have to accept it and respect it but I would like it to be different. In the end, that helps. Especially in modern football, it helps. I do not know if my way of being will have to do with it or not, but I do not have the recognition that perhaps I could in comparison with other players that in my conditions could have or someone with another personality could. It depends on how you look. If you look at numbers, I think I have made an important name in a league as big as the Premier. It is not LaLiga, but it is a tournament that competes with the Spanish to see which is the best. I am a Spaniard who has been here for many years and I have done well enough to have that recognition. Now I have the objective of placing myself among the Spanish with the highest scorers in the Premier. I am sixth, nine goals from Diego Costa, who is the third, I would pass Cesc and other important players in Spain. Sneaking into the top three Spaniards in the Premier League would be very important to me. We are talking about Cazorla, Fábregas, Arteta … They are small goals that one sets and I have it very clear.
– That feeling seems to have also stayed with Silva, who has now returned to LaLiga.
I think Silva is the best example. I understand that we are in another country and that the games are not as followed and seen regularly. They are going to make a statue for Silva here outside of the Etihad. Silva’s thing here has been crazy for titles, for how he has played. He has done wonders in this League and there will be those who value him more or less, but he has done something barbarous.
– We talk about Silva and what he has done in the Premier and the list of star names is now remarkable. Can it be said that the Premier is the NBA of European football?
Undoubtedly. The way the League grows and the number of players that come every year is scary. In a good way, but scary. It’s the perfect label. The NBA of football. It is a show and the most palatable League to see in the eyes of the fans. A Premier match can be exciting because anything can happen. City and Liverpool have distanced themselves from that, but it continues to happen. I have beaten them with Newcastle and with Leicester I have won a lot against the greats. I think anything can happen and also, every year competitiveness improves and improves. Every time there are better players. You also have to assess the difficulty of playing here. Of players who come to stand out in other leagues and have a hard time here. There are those who adapt well and others who find it difficult.
– In the end, Liverpool, City, Chelsea and you compete at the top with less resources, but you are no longer the ‘underdog’ that ends up as champion. Do you notice that now they treat you with more respect?
Yes, we have earned a credit. Here I have heard sometime that one should talk about the Big-7 and not the Big-6 (putting Leicester in). That is the merit of the club. I can tell you from the inside that the club has a lot of ambition and they want to do everything right. That makes the difference. We are in the period of consolidation. We have the FA Cup as our goal. Now is the time, the team is ready. We also qualify for the Champions League. It would be a very big achievement. There is a long period left but it says a lot about the club and where we are. When we go to play in a big stadium we notice it. We like that those teams respect us. That feels. They know that you are a strong, competitive team and that it can do you a lot of damage. We are in that transition.
– In that transition there are several of those who were champions, among them, Vardy, who continues to make a difference with more than 30 years …
I get along really well with him. He’s a cool guy. He spends the day playing pranks on me and everyone. Doing crazy things to make us laugh. He’s a must-have guy who’s eye-catching in the locker room. Age is not that influential. He is in very good shape. He is a very different striker, he is one of the best in Europe when it comes to running on the back. He is a born scorer and the numbers support him. It’s a ‘9’ to watch out for.
“I get along very well with him. He’s a great guy.”
Ayoze, about Vardy
– You went through Second B and your brother Samuel has also experienced that ‘infra-football’, what differences do you notice between Spain and England?
I think that low-level football is better cared for. Here in these categories quality is little. My brother suffered it. Even in Championship there is no great quality either. In Premier it is already an important leap. There is a lot of difference. People who come from Second always say so. Non-professional football is better lived.
– To finish. As I was saying, you have been in England for many years, can you tell us about your funniest moment on green?
I remember one that happened to me at Old Trafford the first time there. I just signed. That game we lost 3-1 but I got to go up to the ‘boxes’ (boxes) upstairs because they named me ‘Player of the Match’ and they gave me a bottle of champagne. I played a very good game with high-quality details. When it was over, Ferguson talked about me and I didn’t believe it. During the week I would look in the mirror and think “this can’t be true.” In that game, I coincide with Ashley Young and she said “Hey, boy, stop it since you’re messing around a lot.” There we burst out laughing. I had only been there for a few months and it was the first time I had played against United. Ashley had been playing there for many years and she had that joke on me, to stop a bit.
A ‘penalty shootout’ with Ayoze
Favorite stadium: “Old Trafford. Smells like football. At Anfield there is also a great atmosphere, we all know that. But I think Old Trafford gives you the feeling that there has been a lot of history.”
A stadium you still want to play in: “The Camp Nou”
The worst rival: “I’d tell you John Terry, I’ve been here for a few years now. I faced him in my first year at Newcastle, just after I got to Second, and I noticed the difference. I’m also staying with Kompany and Van Dijk. physical, they scare. “
“The toughest I’ve ever played? Terry, Kompany and Van Dijk”
The heaviest: “Not because of a sticky brand, but because it was everywhere. I’ll stick with Kanté. That Kanté from the Leicester champion. At that time I played 10, in places where I was going to find him. You received, you thought you had time but already he you were on top of you biting your ankles. It gave me headaches. “
An idol you’ve played against: “Ibrahimovic. When he signed for United, we didn’t get to coincide on the field but we were both substitutes and we agreed on the warm-up. He for me was an idol from Italy. When he came to Spain we saw him at Barça and I tell you, I always liked him. He’s a huge guy. Very big. “