Pedro Rodríguez crowned a memorable year with FC Barcelona's winner in the FIFA Club World Cup final against Club Estudiantes de la Plata last month. The 22-year-old only made his first start for Barça last season, but still came on as a substitute during the UEFA Champions League final triumph in Rome. This season the latest star turn off the production line at the club's vaunted academy is fast proving himself a key part of the squad. Dubbed Barça's "secret weapon", Pedro has scored 13 goals in all competitions, including the winner in the UEFA Super Cup in August, and here offers his insights on a remarkable year for himself and his team.
uefa.com: You have been one of the big surprises of the season for Barcelona and in the Liga in general. Did you imagine you would be playing so often?
Pedro Rodríguez: No, because it's so difficult to get a look-in with the fantastic players we have. To play even a few minutes here is an absolute privilege and you have to take advantage of every single moment on the field. Things have happened so quickly for me, but I'm taking it all in my stride. I've had the opportunity to live through beautiful and unforgettable moments with Barça, but I know I must keep working hard to continue getting chances in the first team.
uefa.com: What are your memories of last season's historic campaign?
Pedro: It was fantastic. We played a lot of exceptional games and ended by winning the treble, which had never before been achieved in Spain. I experienced unforgettable times that I wouldn't change for anything.
uefa.com: Furthermore, coach Josep Guardiola seemed to get on really well with you …
Pedro: I was so thrilled when he allowed me to play the last few minutes of the UEFA Champions League final. I think that was his way of saying thank you for the hard work put in by all of the youth-team players during the year. I won the lottery and was the one who got the chance and I am so grateful, even though I didn't quite manage to touch the ball!
uefa.com: You first teamed up with Guardiola with Barcelona 'B' so you may be one of the players who knows him best. What is he like as a coach?
Pedro: Very detailed. He talks a lot with you and helps you so much in terms of tactics and personal improvement. That really makes a difference. He ensures we continue working hard so we don't fall into a comfort zone.
uefa.com: Is this Barcelona team capable of winning another treble? Is that discussed in the dressing room?
Pedro: We're not thinking about that at all, especially as there is so much of the season still left to play. We're playing well and are still involved in all competitions. The team is playing at the same level or maybe even a little better than this time last year so we'll see at the end of the campaign what we have managed to achieve.
uefa.com: Does it make it easier with players like Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta alongside you?
Pedro: It's a great honour to play alongside those guys. They are exceptional players who play at the very highest level and who can decide games with one moment of magic. For someone like me it's a pleasure just to train with them, let alone play on the same pitch. We've got a really good group and an excellent feeling inside the dressing room. We're working well and are still going in all competitions. We must continue on that path.
uefa.com: As a former youth-team player it must feel very special to see Barcelona players that have travelled the same path as you being named as candidates for the Ballon d'Or. Do you feel involved in these successes?
Pedro: Players here have won prizes for their quality and huge efforts on the pitch. The team plays a role for sure, but the individuals themselves are mostly responsible for what they have won. We are very happy to have an important youth team that feeds the first-team squad. Every player involved with the youth set-up has that work ethic and realises they can reach the next level, especially because Guardiola is the first-team coach; he really knows the youth teams. All this results in a confidence boost for the young guys.
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