Exclusive Alvaro Negredo interview: 'The Beast' lets loose on Al Nasr charge, Sergio Aguero, plus Spain joy and pain

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Alvaro Negredo (Twitter/@ALNasrSC).

Alvaro Negredo looks out at Al Maktoum Stadium.

The ‘Beast of Vallecas’ (La fiera de Vallecas) has graced this turf since September 2018, applying his trademark mixture of raw physicality and artful flashes.

These, potent, attributes have taken the 34-year-old from the backstreets of a working-class Madrid suburb to hypermodern Dubai. Stop offs along the way include a brief dalliance with Real Madrid, startling affirmation at Sevilla, Euro 2012 joy with Spain, Premier League supremacy with Manchester City and the cauldron of Besiktas’ Vodafone Park.

There has also been 265 strikes across 625 appearances. A strong return from this combative centre forward whose contribution must be measured in far more than the goals-scored column.


Watch Negredo and his Al Nasr team mates take on Shabab Al Ahli in the Arabian Gulf Cup on January 17 at 8pm – tickets here










This is the kind of bountiful success that could quell a veteran’s competitive spirit. The Nasr faithful will naturally refer, at this juncture, to World Cup 2006 champion Luca Toni’s forgettable eight-month sojourn at the decade’s start.


Negredo, however, could not allow himself to view his stint in the Arabian Gulf League as mere footnote. Especially with an anticipated Arabian Gulf Cup final looming on Friday versus pace-setting neighbours Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club at Zabeel Stadium (20:00).


He tells Sport360: “I am like a captain in the team and I want to win everywhere I go to play. I won the Premier League and [League] Cup with Manchester [City].


“Now, people think it is more important to win with Manchester [City], but I am a captain. I always think the most important thing is to win – and win everywhere you are.”


He adds: “I always said that when I lose my love for football, I will quit football. It is not only about that, but it’s also my family.


“This is a big experience and a new experience, for us. I came here to make my dreams a reality and I am working on that.


“The day I lose this illusion, I will quit football.”


MORE THAN A NICKNAME


“Illusion” is an apt word to use for a player who regularly conjures the incredible and unbelievable.


0901 banner advert ag cup (1)


Negredo’s swift recovery from a missed spot-kick on debut for the Blue Wave has witnessed his trademark celebration – where the CJR tattoo on his right wrist is kissed in tribute to his parents and brothers – rolled out 28 times in 41 appearances.


A headed brace in victory at Al Wahda in October signalled the new, winning era under debutant ex-Croatia midfielder Krunoslav Juric. The Blue Wave now sit third and hold realistic aspiration of ending a pained 34-year wait for top-flight glory, some recovery from a potential shock scrap against the drop from this sleeping giant of the Emirati game under over-promoted predecessor Caio Zanardi.


These goals were also an exhibition of Negredo’s base talents.


An eye for the spectacular, however, is never far from the ex-Spain international’s mind. This propensity was on show last August, in the season-opening 3-0 AG Cup walkover versus Ittihad Kalba which, remarkably, produced 2019/20’s unassailable goal of the season.


His tight spin under pressure from an onrushing marker at the edge of the penalty box would have drawn appreciative gasps at Bolshoi Theatre. But what came next was, truly, astounding.


Rather than swipe at a shot with his right boot, inimitable invention and clarity of thought would combine to arrow a unique sidewinding lob, swiftly, into the goal with the outside of the left.


Negredo bashfully smiles when asked to explain this staggering attempt.


“It was the last moments of the game,” says the man who inked a two-year deal upon arrival once his links to Besiktas were mutually terminated. “It was finishing and we were winning 2-0.


“I was playing more relaxed and without any pressure. I tried to make this shot with the exterior part of my left foot.


“It was easier to play with my right, but I tried. It was without any pressure and it came like that.”


This astonishing play drew light to Negredo’s duality.


GLORY IN THE GULF?


Hard yards are still run into his mid-30s and a strapping 1.86 metre frame utilised to unseat defenders. So far, so normal.


The majestic highlights then follow. These include a dance into the goal for Sevilla at Osasuna, thumping first-time volley from Yaya Toure’s raking pass for City in the League Cup semi-final annihilation of West Ham United and plentiful bicycle kicks.


This dichotomy came – when wearing the captain’s armband – to the fore at a rain-sodden Hazza bin Zayed Stadium for last Friday’s semi-final win versus Al Ain.


A cushioned header from left-back Mahmoud Khamis’ pinpoint diagonal allowed diminutive ex-Portugal Under-21 playmaker Toze to head home at the near post and make it 1-1 in the 82nd minute. Negredo then, unnervingly, swept his side’s second penalty into the bottom-right corner of usual shootout superstar Khalid Essa’s net on the way to victory.


There is, plainly, much more to the ‘Beast’.


He explains: “There are two things that can be combined. Sometimes in the game, you have to have this big power in your body.


“For example, you have to keep a ball that comes from high. Sometimes, also, you need this quality in the play and to be synchonised with your team.


BeFunky-collage (2)


“There are a lot of big players, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic without making any comparison with him. But he has good physical strength and also a big player in terms of quality.”


JOY AND PAIN WITH SPAIN


The question of ‘Spain’ is liable to draw mixed emotion.


He was overlooked for the triumphant 2010 World Cup squad and was one of seven players cut on the eve of the global extravaganza four years later. Yet the striker would travel to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012, starting the semi-final versus Portugal on way to overall victory.


“It was like a dream becoming a reality when being called to the national team,” Negredo recollects. “I was at Euro 2012 with the big players, who also played in the World Cup.


“I worked too hard to arrive to this level. I was very grateful to see what your work can do for you.”


Time was against Negredo for La Roja. In most generations past and present, he’d have led the line with aplomb.


His path, however, was blocked by luminaries Fernando Torres and David Villa.


The latter still stands as the nation’s 59-goal leading marksman from 98 internationals, while the former’s 38 efforts from 110 run-outs include the final winner at Euro 2008 versus Germany which catalysed an era of dominance.


Both retired in 2019 after stints in Japan. Both remain eminently respected by their neglected peer, Negredo.


“I know that it would be difficult for me to play,” says the man with 10 goals in 21 caps. “But I enjoyed every moment working with them, even from the substitutes’ bench.


“Villa is the best scorer in the whole history of Spanish football. It was a big experience to be with them, live with them and enjoy every moment with them.”


FEELING THE BLUES


Another attacking great kept him company at City – Argentina’s Sergio Aguero.


The club’s all-time top scorer is now engaged in a battle with Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus for the starting slot. Who would Negredo opt for?


He replies: “Aguero is one of the most-important and qualified players to play. This is the coach’s [Pep Guardiola’s] decision for sure.


“He [Aguero] demonstrates and translates all his work in goals. He is a big player.


“But I cannot decide which one plays.”


Negredo’s career has taken him to wondrous places. It could yet deliver silverware in a metropolis more than 7,000 kilometres away from the chipped concrete of Vallecas.


These are the last campaigns in a standout career. The roar of the ‘Beast’ and his warrior spirit, however, remain undiminished.


He says: “My kids have a lot of new stuff, but I remember when I was a child.


“We played for 10 hours in the street with two rocks for the goal. The only time to come back home when my mother or father called us back in with a special whistle.


“I will always recognise this whistle. We came home, eat, and went back again.


“We had such a passion for that.”


Watch Negredo and his Al Nasr team mates take on Shabab Al Ahli in the Arabian Gulf Cup on January 17 at 8pm – tickets here



Know more about Sport360 Application

Recommended


Most popular