We recently spoke with former Wigan defender and current Köln player Román Golobart on growing up in Espanyol, life in Wigan, Roberto Martinez and Oasis.
Q. Your Dad played for Espanyol, was football a big topic round the dinner table as a youngster?
A. Of course, yeah it was sport and everything live. His first profession was a footballer and I was following in his foot steps, it's a major thing in our family. He keeps in touch with the sport, writing articles each week on Barcelona, being on the radio and television, so he is quite well known in Catalunya. Its like the old families where the father used to be something (an occupation) and the son became the same.
Q. What was it like playing in Espanyol's youth team, alongside promising players like Didac Vila and Victor Alvarez?
A. I played three years with Jordi Amat (now at Swansea) and it was nearly impossible for us to lose a game. We won every single tournament possible with Espanyol, we beat Barcelona so many times and Madrid, we knew we were one of the best youth academies in Europe because we were beating the best academies that had money in Spain. I was very very lucky to be there, it was a pleasure and the easiest football you could play and that's one of the reasons I left to go out on loan because it was too easy.
Q. What players were your heroes growing up?
A. Many, many, Dani Jarque who passed away about three years ago, he was the biggest reference for young players in Espanyol and especially centre-backs, he came through the youth academy and was who you wanted to be. Doing the things you wanted to do and he was a nice person, but not soft. The others, Puyol has always been a reference as a fighter and John Terry has been my favourite centre-back of the last ten years, the one who I was always watching. Then you have the great creative players like Zidane, who was perfection and elegance in football for me in the last decade.
Q. What did you think of the job done by Mauricio Pochettino at Espanyol?
A. I think for the first time as a manager he did great things and he took hard decisions. I don't know the inside feedback inside Southampton, but at Espanyol he had to make some hard decisions and he was a refreshing face, which was good for the club and now you can see.
Q. At Wigan there was a large Spanish contingent, how did that help you settle into life in England?
A. It was one of the things we always talked about, that it was not actually such a nice thing have so many Spaniards or Spanish speaking players. Because it doesn't let you get into the real culture of a country, even of a club. Because as a person you tend to do the easiest thing and that was to talk with the Spanish. Which is not what we did always and there was no problem, we spoke and joked with other players. But the year I left for Inverness, it was amazing for me to be with just British people and I learnt so much English. It made me feel on my own, which is why I left Barcelona, I wanted to be on my own and have some freedom. But then I had the chance to share the changing room with such great people like Ivan and Jordi, who have been really helpful and I have learnt a lot from them and they are really good players. It's a mix you want to have, but you don't want to have. In Koln, there are no Spanish speakers and it helps me improve, it's important.
Q. I read that you stopped an on pitch fight at Newcastle, what did you say to the other players and what gave you the confidence to do that being so young?
A. It's quite easy to stop things when you are not attached emotionally, it was the tackle by Callum McManaman which brought a lot of noise in the newspapers, it's normal they have to sell papers and get visits on websites. After two weeks he was playing, it was a nasty tackle, but he was still playing two weeks later and probably could have done the week after. The assistant manager at Newcastle (John Carver) was quite personal about it, which doesn't make sense to me. I don't win anything by throwing a punch and I know people in football that have a really high heart-rate when they are playing, but being on the bench it's not the same. There should always be someone who tries to stop (things escalating), otherwise this world would be crazy.
Q. How did Roberto Martinez prepare the team for matches and do you think he will do well at Everton?
A. He was very simple, he knows the minds of the players very well. He did his exercises on the training ground which included his tactics, though sometimes he wouldn't even mention tactics. He would say you have to do this and that, one touch or two touches and if you thought a little bit more about then you would see what he meant on a Saturday before a game. He controls the minds of the players and that's one of his biggest assets. I don't know Everton, only as an outsider and it's not fair for me to say an opinion on anything about it. I hope he does well, I think he can get top six and I have a couple of ex-teammates there so I will be watching some games.
Q. Did he give players specific instructions or did he allow freedom of expression?
A. He brought the kind of players who fitted into his way of playing of football. Which is one of the hardest things he will face at Everton, having an already formed team. He saw us at other clubs and he sees us round the training ground each day so he knows what you can give.
Q. Who's the best player you have played with?
The best centre-back at Wigan was Ivan Ramis, being my position it's my reference. Jordi Gomez doesn't need anything else other than a movement to change a game totally, the kind of player that you can't defend against because you depend on what another player is doing, it's the hardest thing to have to watch behind your back and you need communication.
Q. What was Arouna Kone like to play against in training and could you keep up?
A. You have to get to the ball before him, otherwise what can you do. You can't touch him because he uses his strength to turn and you can't be quicker than him, you can't do a one versus one because he will shoot from 25 yards and make the goalkeeper perform one of the saves of his life. So you just have to get there before him or persuade him to pass the ball.
Q. What's your favourite Oasis song and who's your favourite Gallagher - Noel or Liam?
So hard, (goes to check his iTunes), I'm going to say 'The Master-plan' because I have two LS Lowry paintings and the video was based on these pictures. It's this working-class propaganda, I love this feeling, it's why Manchester is so deep inside me. The Gallagher's father, because he made the two of them, one this great songwriter and one with this attitude which tells people to f*** off.
This is the second part of the interview, for the first part go over to Bundesliga Football or read this on Román Golobart. We would like to thank Román for his time and honesty, if you want to follow the player on Twitter its @PutifarGolobart