squad | 2017-01-03
Ter Stegen to Mundo Deportivo: ‘I see myself as Barça's goalkeeper for the next decade’
The German player confesses Guardiola contacted him but he chose to stay in Barça
How were your beginnings with the Spanish language?
It was very hard at first but it’s more difficult to adapt into a team if you don’t speak the same language and to me it was important to learn Spanish as soon as I could to ease my integration to the squad.
Have you had any misunderstandings because of the language?
Yes. I try my best to express myself in Spanish and that you can understand me but people must know that sometimes I don’t say the right words and I don’t like to be misunderstood or people twisting my words.
On a personal level, what’s your assessment for 2016?
2016 was a year with a lot of interesting things. We have kept growing as a team. In the second part of the year, this season, the matches have been a bit different because the rivals have changed the defend but we have learned from that situation and we are currently in second place and want to win our matches. With the 4-1 against Espanyol we have ended the league last year on a positive note.
This is your third season in Barça. Going back to the beginning, do you remember the first time they told you Barça were interested in you?
At the beginning, when they signed me they explained to me their plan with me. I felt excited because it’s something I have always wanted and I have achieved exactly that. I’m at a club which has everything, there are nice people and that’s very important to me.
Once you were signed, what advices did Zubizarreta give you?
There were many but mainly he wanted to let me know how the life of a Barcelona goalkeeper could be. He explained to me it was an unique position and more so in Barça because it’s totally different. I liked the idea of being here and that’s why I agreed to sign with Barça.
The goalkeeper position at the Camp Nou has a special set of skills, did you know about it?
The goalies that have played in Barça, specially Victor Valdés, have provided the image of how the Barça goalkeeper should be and the club wanted to sign a keeper with very solid feet abilities who understood Barça’s game style and I proud they chose me.
How can you remained so calm in the plays when you have an attacker closing in on you considering you’re the last defender?
In those moments I’m always focused because I always want to find the best solution to build from the back and I also have learned a lot last year. The fact I’m playing the league matches as well makes you learn new things which are different when you’re playing the Champions League. There are also a lot of more matches therefore you have more rhythm and lessons and you’re always improving. That was the situation I was looking for since I arrived here and now I can say it’s exactly like that. Everytime the ball comes to me, I look for a good solution and if the striker is close so be it.
You recently made a mistake in Celta’s field in which you were very self-critical, how do you overcome such situation?
After the match we always analyzed with Dela [De La Fuente] everything that has happened and with the coach as well. It’s something we regularly do. You can always learn after every match from the things that took place and can occur again in another game. After a mistake I focus on the next match.
It’s precisely with De La Fuente whom you work the most, how’s your relationship?
Dela talks to me about everything, he lets me know about things that have happened and his opinion is very important to me. We work a lot together and he tells me how he sees things and that’s a very important second opinion. Besides, I talk to every teammate to evaluate their point of view and how we can improve. There’s something very good about Barça: everybody wants to improve always.
And how’s your relationship with the coach Luis Enrique?
He talks a lot with the players, gives us confidence everytime we enter the pitch and that makes our lives easier. His motivation is the same as ours and you can see that. As a team, including the technical staff, we want to win everything and give our best of ourselves.
Nowadays you’re sharing the position with Cillessen and Masip, what can you tell us about each one of them?
We talk a lot among us and work together. I have a good relationship with both of them and that’s important to me. I’m familiar with the situation, not as much as them, but I can imagine that for them is not easy and comfortable to always maintain the intensity and they’re doing it pretty good. I have a lot of respect for both of them because they’re very professional.
By the way, Cillessen got injured during the holidays. Do you see yourself playing in the Spanish Cup?
That’s a decision the coach will have to make. Let’s see.
Bravo was the one who finally left. A lot have been spoken about your relationship. Now that’s all water under the bridge, how do you remember it?
It was a tough competition because both of us wanted to play everything. Ultimately, things have changed this summer and we’re both fine with it. He’s with Manchester City and I’m with Barcelona. A change needed to happen because it was not easy to maintain that situation.
Pep Guardiola confessed that he called you because he wanted to sign you, was it so?
I suppose he wanted a goalkeeper who were good with his feet, everybody knows Guardiola as a person and footballer and his philosophy is this way. It was clear that if the situation didn’t change a solution had to be reached but the club told me my time had came and that everybody was supporting me. And that’s why I didn’t hesitate and stayed here.
They say you’re Barça’s goalkeeper for the next decade, do you see yourself playing ten years at Barça?
Yes, why not?
How is your renewal going? Have you started the negotiations?
We are always in contact, so far we haven’t talked much about it. I have two and a half years left [in my contract] and therefore there’s no rush to renew.
Who are your role models?
When I was in the Monchengladbach academy I had a clear picture of how a goalie should be and to me back then it was Oliver Kahn, who was the best goalkeeper in the world. Then, there were other such as Buffon or Casillas.
What are your wishes for 2017?
Above all, to stay healthy. It all depends on health and I hope for all the squad to remain healthy and for my family and friends as well.
And sporting wise?
That we can win the maximum number of games and eventually surpass Madrid in the table.
Out of curiosity: you started playing in a green kit and now you wear a black or purple one, is it for any reason? Are you superstitious?
No, it depends on the match but I don’t have any superstition.