After making his name with local club Valencia CF, goalkeeper Andrés Palop cemented his reputation as one of Europe's finest goalkeepers with Sevilla FC, with whom he won two Spanish Cups as well as back-to-back UEFA Cups and a UEFA Super Cup. Now at 38, he tells UEFA.com his desire to achieve is as strong as ever.
UEFA.com: With coach Míchel at the helm, Sevilla have enjoyed an unbeaten start to Liga while also scoring an impressive win at home to Real Madrid CF. What has changed this term, when Sevilla finished ninth in the table and missed out on a Euroean place?
Andrés Palop: We are playing an attractive brand of football, hitting teams on the counterattack and maximising our strengths out wide. As a coach, Míchel is developing fast. As a team we have complete faith in him, and this is fundamental for us.
UEFA.com: You are 38-years-old, and captain of Sevilla. How do you maintain your fitness levels?
Palop: You really have take care of yourself and look to live an ordered life. You must be a footballer 24 hours a day. I take immense enthusiasm into every training session while looking to improve and feeling an important part of the team. Setting objectives and goals, all of these things make you feel fresh.
UEFA.com: You played in Sevilla's 2006 and 2007 UEFA Cup final wins. What are your memories of those games?
Palop: My memories are spectacular ones. Sevilla had gone many, many years without winning titles up until then. We won that first UEFA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win [against Middleborough FC]; it was incredible. To see an entire city spilling onto the streets for the homecoming afterwards was immense. From that moment more trophies began to arrive and it was like a dream. The truth is we had a great team with brilliant players.
UEFA.com: You never made your senior debut for Spain but you were in the victorious UEFA EURO 2008 squad. Did La Roja's win at UEFA EURO 2012 bring back good memories for you?
Palop: Of course it did as the 2012 win was like a mirror image of the previous victory. I was so happy that Spain managed to pick up that [EURO, FIFA World Cup, EURO] treble, which was really difficult. It nags at me that I never played for Spain, and it always will, but I thank god and Luis Aragonés that I was actually part of a EURO.
UEFA.com: Getting back to the present, what is Sevilla's target for this season?
Palop: First off, we want to get back into Europe. The more experienced heads like me want to play in the Champions League again. We must convince the younger players of the importance of these objectives and if, toward the season's end, we are in a position to push for the Champions League then we have to go for it.
UEFA.com: We can't leave you without asking who is the best player you have faced in your career?
Palop: Lionel Messi. When he comes toward you, you just don't know what he's going to try to do. With Messi there's no point in thinking what he might attempt because he'll just end up doing something totally different, something so surprising.
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