There is not long to go now before Gerard Piqué and his pop-star partner Shakira become parents to their first child.
It is unlikely their son will arrive on 2 February and share his birthday with his mother and his father, but more than likely that come 20 February – when Dad leads FC Barcelona's assault on AC Milan at San Siro in the UEFA Champions League last 16 – the infant will already be a Barça socio (registered club member). Piqué has been one for 25 years, since he was born, and during our interview the prospect of his son following suit is enough to cause huge spontaneous smiles to spread across his face with pleasure.
The 25-year-old, very much a family man, credits his parents with much of his success, telling Champions Matchday: "They've given me everything. They were my support when we started this. They kept my feet on the ground when we started winning. I think you always have [your parents], for good and bad. They are the best parents you could have. Every son would say the same, but in my case they've always given me everything I needed, and I cannot ask for more."
A similarly supportive family atmosphere in the Camp Nou dressing room has also helped nurture Piqué's career. "The dressing room at Barcelona is the best one I've been in," said the Spanish international, who has also played for Manchester United FC and Real Zaragoza. "Because there's a lot of human quality there, and a lot of home-grown players, and we've known each other for many years. We are confident we can tell each other things to our faces when things aren't going well."
Right now, things are going very well indeed, with Piqué having every reason to believe he could be adding another odd bit of memorabilia to his collection by the end of the season. He famously took a piece of goal netting at the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2011 UEFA Champions League finals for his private museum.
"When I finish my career I want to enjoy remembering the best moments, and of course the World Cup final was one of the nicest things I have ever experienced in my career," he explained. "I wanted to keep something special, like a shirt or a ball, but I also wanted to have something that nobody really has, because it was just a very hard job to get."
The full version of Graham Hunter's interview with Gerard Piqué is in the new edition of Champions Matchday, out today. It is available in digital versions on Apple Newsstand or Zinio, as well as in print, and you can follow the magazine on Twitter @ChampionsMag.
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