The Classic of today and yesterday, Maradona, Messi and a favorite … Real Madrid

The Classic of today and yesterday, Maradona, Messi and a favorite ... Real Madrid

BARCELONA – “Friend, Maradona was a show. An unparalleled footballer, something crazy. And a great teammate.” The person who talks about Diego Armando Maradona like this is Julio Alberto Moreno, an Asturian side who shared two years of his career with the Argentine star at Barcelona and who keeps that memory in his mind.

Pelusa left the club in 1984 and Julio Alberto continued until his retirement in 1991. His name is today a legend in Barça. There were not many footballers who got along so well and so well with the demanding Camp Nou fans.

His was not an ordinary life. He went through problems, and not a few, but today, at 63, he lives “proud of myself.” He suffered, he confesses, “a very hard social rejection” and everything he experienced, and the way in which he has managed to get ahead in what should be considered the best title of his existence, causes him to have a maxim:

He does not want to remove that past. So much so that he has come to sue a couple of newspapers in Spain for putting things in his mouth that he has not said and for mounting stories taking advantage of a morbid never justified.

When you meet Julio Alberto, the person, you understand his reluctance … And at the same time the possibility of chatting with him about soccer is illuminated. Of the Barça of the present, of his, of Messi, of Maradona of course, and also of Real Madrid. Of the Classic that comes, “we can win it” he proclaims, and of the many that he lived on the lawn. Indelible memories for any Barcelona player.

Because there was a time when his name was thundered at the Camp Nou in the mouth of a dedicated fan. And it is not surprising because Julio Alberto has gone down in history as one of Barça’s best left-backs. Successor of Toño de la Cruz, he signed for the club, from Atlético de Madrid, in 1982 and for $ 600,000, a very respectable amount at the time that was more than amortized in sport.

And that he was not a collector of titles as he would have deserved. He added 301 official matches until his retirement in 1991, winning two League titles, three King’s Cups, two League Cups, a Spanish Super Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. And he cried, like all Barça fans, the cruel defeat in the final of the European Cup (today Champions) in 1986 against Steaua.

“Out of 100 games we would have won 99 … It was my great regret, the thorn that remains stuck, the saddest memory, of course” reveals today, removed from the foreground and as decisive as it was in his time as a footballer.

You played 19 Classics. How did a footballer live them in his time?

They were, like now, different games, lived in a very special way, with great intensity throughout the week in which you realize that everything around you is different.

None like that of Maradona’s goal at the Bernabéu …

Surely that one and the 83 Cup final in Zaragoza. Diego’s goal, uff, was impressive. Seen from the field you already understood the difficulty and his cold blood and when you see him later on television, being at the Bernabéu itself, you are already astonished.

Maradona was different, but how much is explained?

Diego was awesome. He enjoyed football like no one else and on the field, during any game, you realized that you were playing alongside a footballer like no other. You have to realize that he always had two or three rivals hitting him and that he came out of everything.

They also hit today …

Nothing like then man … Today television, the many cameras there are, cause football to have softened. At that time, the game was very tough and all the teams, all of them, had big and tough center-backs, who wouldn’t let it pass. What Diego did, how he resisted, would not be understood today. Impossible.

Equally it is impossible not to establish the comparison with Messi. If you had to choose between one of the two, which one would you choose?

You cannot choose because soccer has undergone a very big change in the last 20 or 25 years. Before it was much harder; perhaps it was less physical but the fight stood out much more. Messi is the best today as Maradona was then, although the difference, perhaps, is that Leo is different in that there are few, very few, who have lasted so long at the top.

Before he referred to the final in Zaragoza. That goal by Marcos at the last minute with a center of his, the explosion of joy … Was El Clásico more passionate at that time?

Before football was more local, so to speak. Today it is more global. That ending was very special, yes. We went out to the field, in Zaragoza, seeing the atmosphere in the stands and the game was very tough. I remember Camacho’s entry to Maradona very hard, very strong. And from Marcós’s goal, from my center, everything comes from a phenomenal long pass from Diego.

This Sunday Messi will not be at the Camp Nou Classic. Do you understand it as a position of weakness for Barça?

I see the game as very complicated and I do think that Real Madrid comes with a certain advantage due to all the changes that have taken place at Barça. The best in the world has left and now we have a very young team that is still doing that faces another more done, but you cannot think negatively, on the contrary. You play at home, with your people and with maximum enthusiasm.

And with Ansu Fati, who is considered the successor …

Slowly. He is a different footballer, something special and who has shown that he is prepared for everything, but he comes from a long injury and is still very young. Don’t put pressure on it. Sometimes I think that the limit is being crossed because he is a huge boy who has everything to be a crack, but you have to give him time … Today we see any young man and we have already transferred all the pressure. Expectations have to be met in stages, but you can’t put so much pressure on it. He, Gavi, Nico … cannot be asked to lead the generational change, they have to be clothed and helped so that expectations do not degenerate into stress they do not deserve.

All in all, it is the beginning of a new stage …

When there is a transition comes a time of change. Leo has left as before Iniesta, Suárez, Xavi left … It is a process of change in every way, the club changes its sports policy, it must rebuild and rise again and with La Masia as a starting point. Barça, in two three years, must once again be among the best in the world and for that now you have to know how to lose and then win again.

With or without Koeman?

He is the coach and he deserves the utmost respect and support for me. It is one thing for him to be your ideal coach and I will not speak of ideals out of respect, but what should be done is to support him and give him room for maneuver, let him work calmly because transferring so much nervousness is causing him to be transferred to the entire team and the team. club.

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