In today’s Ole an interview with Juan Sebastian Verón.
Q – After everything that’s happened, at this point, did you imagine being once again a key part of the national team?
V – To imagine, one can imagine alot of things and sometimes the reality is completely different. But there are things that happen because of the circumstance or the moments. I never lost the hope of being on the national team.
Q – After the Copa America it appeared that it did.
V – It’s normal, because of the result, the frustration of the final but afterwards that starts to go away, a new era began, Diego arrived, his message and that also caused me to renew myself and recover strength.
Q – Maradona made you feel important again?
V – Yes, I know that he has trust in me. The same thing happened with Basile, he made me return to the national team but with Diego there’s a relationship from before, having played together. There’s a mutual respect as a player and a person. And everything he says about me makes me have the responsibility of not failing him.
Q – He considers you to be a leader within the team. Do you see yourself as that again?
V – That is something that the group will choose. And there are very intelligent young players here, that have a very successful career in European football but know how to listen.
Q – Messi was one of the ones who listened to you the most. Do you see him today in the place that you thought he would be in?
V – Leo has grown alot. Besides achieving what he’s achieved, he was important. Just look that in Barcelona he’s spoken about more than Henry or Eto’o, he’s surpassed them. But beyond the push that one or another may give to him, Messi is in a place that his abilities have put him in.
Q – What was he missing before, when you talked to him in the Copa America?
V – It wasn’t because of anything we talked about, he began to discover his place on his own. At that moment it was simply bringing him into the group, for him to realize that he was important for us. What also happened was that on that team there were alot of older players and today the group is better suited for him. And you can see him more relaxed, integrated. But with the same humility.
Q – Crespo said that he should be surrounded with players as Diego was in 1986. Is that so?
V – Leo is a player that does not have any limits. And he has the most difficult thing in football: controlling the ball at a fast pace with precision. I think that he must be made to feel comfortable and that he also feel that necessity to push the team like he does in Barcelona. But it is also work. Look at Hernan talking about 1986 but the majority of the players that surrounded Diego were based in Argentina. Now the nucleus of the team plays abroad.
Q – Does he need to be given support like he gets from Xavi or Iniesta in Barcelona?
V – But they’re not the only ones. It’s the fullback that joins the attack, the movements, knowing his teammates. We also have players that are skillfull with the ball. It has to be worked. Look, lets not pretend that Leo has to resolve everything. From what I see and feel, alot of people believe that he can win the world cup all by himself. And that is impossible. There is only one Maradona. And Messi is Messi. With all his virtues that made him the best player in the world today, but if something bad happened I wouldn’t want that to fall entirely on him.
Q – Like it happened to you.
V – Like it happened to me, Aimar, D’Alessandro, Riquelme. That is sought after.
Q – You already helped him in some way on the outside. And now it’s your turn to do it from the inside?
V – It’s what I want. Hopefully I can help so the best Messi can be seen. And I’m not the only that has that desire, it’s what all of us want. It is important to have on the national team Messi at his best. And that depends mostly on us than of him.
Q – How do you see yourself collaborating with him, Tevez & Aguero?
V – Trying to assist them, to support them, but also to give balance to the midfield, playing in a deeper spot like I do in Estudiantes. Going on the attack is not everything.
Q – You are not a playmaker. Despite that, you’ll start the game in that spot.
V – I don’t consider myself a playmaker because I have other characteristics. That’s why, beyond me starting in that spot, it is difficult for me to occupy the role of a classic playmaker. I will look to move to the side because space should not be taken away from those that are upfront. Actually, with Gago we change positions during the practice sessions. Everything will happen according to the dynamics of the game.
Q – Why do you think there is a big need to have a playmaker?
V – Because the playmaker has always been an integral part of Argentine football. And the people also demand it. We’ve always had that type of player. But that position began to disappear. Today, players of that characteristic, like the kids in Huracan, Moralez, Blanco or Jose Sosa of Estudiantes, play to the sides or play more upfront.
Q – Are you excited about playing with the three little ones?
V – I am excited but those names must be made to function like a team. If the three upfront play great, the merit will be theirs and of all of us.
Q – Against Chile, at the start of the 2006 WC qualifiers you were able to change the boos for applauses. Would you like for that to repeat now?
V – I don’t play for that, I don’t look for it. If it happens, then that’s even better. But there are those that recognize what you do and others that don’t and others that refuse to because of the past. Today, even though I’m not 20 years old, I feel good physically and in my football form. It gives me the strength and the will to work everyday to make it to the world cup. Anyhow, there’s time left for that. The important thing is to defeat Colombia in the qualifiers because they’re behind us.