Javi Rodríguez was the Spain captain through much of their recent period of dominance, lifting the FIFA Futsal World Cup and UEFA European Futsal Championship, but at club level he was absent from the international game for quite some time.
Though part of the Playas de Castellón FS side that won the first two UEFA Futsal Cups in 2002 and 2003, until this season Rodríguez had been absent from the competition since his old team's failed hat-trick attempt in 2004. Having joined home-town club FC Barcelona in 2006, he helped them win their first Spanish title last term and is now looking forward to the UEFA Futsal Cup finals once again, with Sporting Clube de Portugal their last-four opponents in Lleida on Friday. Rodríguez spoke to UEFA.com about Barcelona's rise and his competition memories.
UEFA.com: How does it feel to be part of the growth of Barça futsal?
Javi Rodríguez: Well, I am happy. Happy, because when I came here six seasons ago, I only came with one objective, which was to develop with the squad and win titles. And starting last season, we began achieving this.
UEFA.com: What have been the key factors behind your success?
Rodríguez: Most of all a lot of patience, a lot of hard work, because we are currently benefitting from the fruits of many seasons. There are 12 players and a technical staff that have won medals, but that's after a lot of hard work and a long list of people working for this objective over time.
UEFA.com: When you signed in 2006, did you think this future would be possible?
Rodríguez: Yes, because I knew I had come to the best club in the world.
I knew I had come to a club where it was their priority to let this team and this squad grow. Because when I came, the first thing they did was to further professionalise things. So this certainly gives you a certain potential.
UEFA.com: Do the different departments of the club inspire each other?
Rodríguez: [As well as the footballers] the handball, basketball and roller hockey squads have already won European titles and we haven't yet so in that sense it's a source of inspiration and very important for us.
UEFA.com: Did retiring from the national team in 2010 help you to perform better at club level?
Rodríguez: I knew I couldn't compete on two fronts any more. Over the years it takes more time to recover and that is difficult so at a certain point I took the decision, and I am proud of it and have never regretted it.
UEFA.com: What memories do you have of the first UEFA Futsal Cup finals in Lisbon?
Rodríguez: It was unbelievable as after winning my first European title the year before in Castellon, which wasn't the official one, we then won the first official one. The first club to win it was Castellón, and I can say that I was there in Lisbon.
UEFA.com: And the next year you won it again in your own stadium.
Rodríguez: We had to face [Action 21] Charleroi and I remember it very well. We drew 1-1 in their stadium, and in the second leg, in our stadium, we won 6-4. It was a very full Ciudad de Castellón, with 7,000 people. It was incredible.
UEFA.com: How much will home advantage help Barcelona?
Rodríguez: There are cases where hosts didn't win it but it's definitely in our favour that we're playing here, and not in Russia, for example, or in Italy or Portugal. This is a plus for us, so I am sure that with the help of everyone here, we will try to keep that European title here in Barcelona.
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