This season full-back Jordi Alba has emerged as one of the most eye-catching defenders in Spanish football. Originally a left midfielder, the 22-year-old has won over coach Unai Emery and even national team boss Vicente del Bosque for his impressive performances as a converted left-back.
UEFA.com: This is your third season at Valencia and, despite being only 22, you have become a regular starter at Mestalla. What is the secret to your evolution as a player?
Jordi Alba: I always tried to stay very patient and to wait for my opportunity. The fact that Emery changed my position was something that worked out very well for me.
Now I'm playing as a full-back and I was called up for the national team as a defender, which few people thought I would be in that position. The secrets have been patience and hard work.
UEFA.com: How is it that Valencia can keep rebuilding year after year?
Jordi Alba: Unai Emery has been here for four years and knows the group very well. Some good players have gone but an important point worth making is that those who have arrived have brought a lot to the team. Young players have arrived who are very eager to perform.
UEFA.com: Looking at the level at which Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona perform, is it enough to finish in third place or do you want more?
Jordi Alba: Obviously Barcelona and Madrid are a big step above the chasing pack. They are two of the very best in the world and it's very hard to reach their level. If possible, we would also like to be up there with [Madrid and Barcelona].
UEFA.com: How did the team react to their UEFA Champions League elimination?
Jordi Alba: It was a real pity. We went into the tie against Chelsea expecting to go through, although it was always going to be difficult. We don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves as we must look forward. We are embarking on a new challenge where there will be more big teams. The UEFA Europa League is an important tournament.
UEFA.com: Do you see yourself at UEFA EURO 2012?
Jordi Alba: I don't, not yet. It's too soon to say. I've played two games and have been with the squad on several other occasions. It's been really great joining the national set-up because − just like at Valencia − I'm learning a lot. In order to get to EURO I will have to play a lot with my club and play well. After that it depends on the coach.
I'm very grateful for the four call-ups I've had and for having played alongside some of the best players in the world. For any player, especially a young one like me, that's an absolute privilege. I daren't even think about [playing at EURO 2012]. I have to play well for Valencia and then we'll see. Going to a EURO would be more than a reward.
UEFA.com: After a great 2011 on a personal level, what are you hoping for in the coming year?
Jordi Alba: This year has been fantastic for me and I hope that the coming one will be the same or even better. I want to continue building up playing time with Valencia and to get back in the national team.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.