"I'm currently playing Champions League football because when I was rejected, I kept going," Club Brugge's Spanish forward Ferran Jutglà tells UEFA.com having effortlessly made the giant step up to Europe's top club competition.
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From the area of Osona near Barcelona (most famous locally for its sausages), Ferran Jutglà was a trainee at Espanyol, Valencia and then Barcelona before the 23-year-old was sold to Club Brugge this summer, having played most of his professional games in the Spanish lower leagues.
The Belgian side have been the sensation of the group stage so far, picking up ten points with victories against Leverkusen, Porto and Atlético, Jutglà scoring twice in the process. He spoke to UEFA.com about becoming a cult hero in Belgium.
On leaving Barcelona for Club Brugge this summer
We had a video call with the people from the club. [Their representative] explained the project to me and showed me the facilities, which are wonderful. They are new – completed two years ago, so they are wonderful – and he told me I could develop here.
I was told that I would get to play every weekend, train during training sessions, and that this was a good place for me to develop. For me, it’s very important to feel valued. They were giving me [goalscoring] responsibilities. We really liked the project throughout the negotiations, and we came here without thinking twice.
On opening his Champions League account with a penalty against Porto
[Captain] Hans [Vanaken] asked me if I felt confident and I said that I was, so he let me take it. I was the one who was fouled and I felt confident, so I just asked for permission to take it.
Before the match, I spoke with our press officer, and he asked me if I felt nervous. I told him that I was, but not more than usual because I had dreamt of that moment so many times, that when [the chance to score] became a reality, you say to yourself: "This is what I want. Just enjoy it. Do what you usually do, without any nerves." If you're nervous while playing, you won't be yourself.
When I step out to play a Champions [League] match, it's as if I was playing a league match or a [Spanish third tier] match. At the end of the day, I prepare the same way for the league and the Champions [League], and I step onto the pitch to play football, have a good time and, above all, win.
On his goal celebrations
Two years ago, I worked with a psychologist and he told me that I had to start celebrating my goals in a way that was meaningful for me – and I didn't know what to do. I was thinking for a while, and this triangle thing is the triangle of a house. My house is triangle-shaped. And I said: "I've got it. It'll be a triangle for my family, my friends and the people around me." So the celebration is always dedicated to them.
On rolling with the punches on his way up
All the things I’ve experienced through my career, all the bad moments, all the rejections I received … These things have made me stronger. I have accepted that when a door is closed in front of you, another one will open; but if you do want something, and you know what you have to do – taking care of yourself, working hard, improving, training harder than anyone else, making sacrifices… If you do all of that and you keep doing it, you can achieve whatever you want.
If you are ever rejected, it doesn't mean you are not good enough. So that's how I decided to take things, and I think I'm currently playing Champions League football because when I was rejected, I kept going and that makes the difference.