How would you define the present Barça?
Modern Barça is a luxury; a way of learning for children and young people. It combines technical and human qualities, and it is noted for its humility.
Does the origin of what Barça today is lie in the Dream Team which you led in the 90s?
It shares the values of the Dream Team, although everything improves over the years. Barça has made a huge change since 2003, when it incorporated UNICEF onto its shirts … It has been noted for specific values that are being lost …
Is the team losing values?
Changes never start in the dressing room, but rather in the area away from sport. We are now starting a new phase. We will see whether this translates at the results’ level. It is logical for this to be the case, but I hope I am wrong.
What was the Dream Team?
A team that broke with a very well-established mentality of Barcelonaism, which was impossible to gain. The fans wanted a form of football that is exciting, but at the same time they were afraid of new things. I am not afraid of changes. I offered something new, and it worked.
Was that your best time or was that your time as a player?
In football, on the field, everything is better … The further away you are from the field, the worse it is.
Which moment would you highlight from your time?
The best time of my career is not related to football, a field I have always mastered and, hence, with which I have not had the chance to surprise myself. On the other hand, I have done this with the Johann Cruyff Foundation, with social initiatives, etc.
Tell us about your Foundation
We have achieved that 50,000 children do sports every week through the Foundation, many of them with some disabilities. This is something very important, if we take account of the fact that, nowadays, only one in every five children plays in the street and that one in every six is obese. Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health problems that we have at this time and that we are going to have in the immediate future.
What do disabled children get from sport?
Children with disabilities, whether physical or mental, are very protected, wrapped in cotton wool. We help them to be more self-sufficient and we seek to improve the quality of their lives. Through sport they learn to cope with their daily lives; to tie their shoelaces, to make the move from the wheelchair to the car, etc.
You help them to develop abilities and acquire habits.
Exactly! For example, playing tennis in a wheelchair forces you to pick up the ball plenty of times. Then that helps them a lot in their daily lives.
How do they experience this?
They are delighted, because they see that sport opens up a new world for them. If we ask them "Why do you like sailing?", the answer is that there is no horizon, while there always is in a wheelchair. We also work with blind people who learn to ski, sail, swim, athletics, etc. There are no barriers.
Tell us about a case that has particularly impressed you.
There are so many cases, it is hard to point to one. I recall a boy who, thanks to sport, managed to avoid feet surgery. After being involved in a ski project for three years, the time came to operate on him, and the doctor asked him: "What have you done?" He did not need surgery in the end.
There are many cases of overcoming obstacles … The good thing about sport is that there is always an aim. Every day there is something to improve on … That is something that never ends.
This is also useful for people with no disabilities.
Of course! But, regrettably, sport is undervalued. Many people say: "If I have got the time, I am going to do sports. But practising is very important: it educates your body, plays a fundamental role in protecting our health and, moreover, makes us improve in many areas: it teaches us to win, to lose, to work, all within a team.
Except in individual sports…
No one can ever do anything alone in life, not so in individual sports! Nadal is not alone, but rather part of a team that he has to work with in training, in technical aspects, in nutrition, etc.
You are a great golf lover. Did you know Severiano Ballesteros, another great Spanish sportsman?
We met some 30 years ago, at a golf tournament in Holland. He was a great Barça fan ... I have felt his loss very deeply. He was very special to me.
For more information on the Johan Cruyff Foundation, visit the website www.fundacioncruyff.org.