she broke away (suffragette) wrote in ontd_football,
she broke away

Theelba interview

The first thing that strikes you, other than – no kidding – the darkest eyes you have ever seen, is how small he is, almost Lilliputian. When Roberto Mancini paraded his first four summer signings at a press conference last week he said he had brought in Yaya Touré, Aleksandar Kolarov and Jérôme Boateng, in part, because of their power and size. Then he turned to David Silva, sitting to his right, put his arm around him and gave him a reassuring squeeze. "Maybe not David," he said, "but this a fantastic footballer. You know, I wanted to sign this guy five years ago for Internazionale. He has kept me waiting."

The strange thing is that, as yet, Silva's arrival in England has not fired the public's imagination as might have been anticipated. Perhaps it is a legacy of the World Cup, where he started only the first match for Spain. Or maybe it was that the signing was agreed in the final week of June, when everyone was fixated on the events in South Africa.

Whatever the reason, Manchester City have got themselves a whole bundle of Jimmy Krankie-sized talent. Silva is the reason English football's biggest spenders have not gone for Mesut Ozil. He is one of the "little guys" in the Spanish national side, a player who embodies the lacerating pass-them-to-death style, where the philosophy is that giving away the ball is a sin.

Silva is the player Fernando Torres wanted at Liverpool. José Reina, another of Liverpool's Spanish contingent, says: "He might barely measure 1.50m but he has talent to die for." In England, an accomplished left foot is usually described as "educated". El Pais, the Spanish newspaper, reckons Silva has "a mine in his". Oh, and his right one is not too bad either. Carlos Tevez, you imagine, could fall in love with this guy.

He has cost £25m. Yet when City sent a delegation to Valencia in late 2008 to ask about Silva and David Villa they were quoted £135m for the pair. The Valencia president, Manuel Llorente, later told the Spanish press that Villa could go, but that he would rather carry a collection bucket around the Mestalla than sell Silva.

Yet Valencia were crippled by debt, and it was inevitable Silva would eventually move on. "Things were all over the place at Valencia," he says. "At one point we weren't even getting paid. Construction on the new stadium stopped. The time had come where they had to sell."

Silva initially had reservations about City – "the Champions League is the most important competition, it's fundamental to be involved in it," he says – but he was enamoured with the way they persisted. Chelsea wanted him, too, but City tried harder. "City were the club that showed the most interest for me. They stuck their neck out and showed the more serious interest, that's why I went for it. They also showed interest during last season so I know they really wanted me."

Mancini, he says, rang him on several occasions at Spain's World Cup base in South Africa. "He didn't have to do a big selling job but it was all very positive. I can speak a bit of Italian, so we got by. He told me how ambitious everyone is.

"I was aware that they weren't in the top two or three English teams. I haven't gone into the history too much, but I know they haven't won a trophy for many, many years. But I was also made aware of the future plans, and the type of players they are buying to match the other clubs and try to win the title."

By his own admission, his English is not strong – he conducted this interview via an interpreter – but he is taking lessons, eager to immerse himself into Manchester life. And besides, modern footballers have a way of communicating with each other even in the most cosmopolitan dressing rooms.

When Silva arrived in Manchester he had his World Cup medal in his pocket because he did not dare lose it in transit. He was taken to the training ground, introduced to the players and then shown to the dressing room. "They had put up a poster from the World Cup final," he says, flashing a grin. The Spanish players lifting the trophy? "No, it was Nigel de Jong's tackle on Xabi Alonso ... that tackle."

De Jong, in fairness, has seen the funny side. "I've spent quite a lot of time with him," Silva says. "After the final I knew this was going to be a new team-mate of mine so I went looking for him, to say hard luck. Since I've been in Manchester he's helped me settle in. As long as he saves those tackles for the games and not training ..."

Don't be fooled, though, by the fact that Silva stands at 5ft 6in, with sloping shoulders, and weighs less than 11st. Or that when Spain won Euro 2008, Reina went on stage in Madrid, microphone in hand, and introduced Silva as "that guy there, the very little one", then waved his hand by his knee, pretending to ruffle a toddler's hair.

Inevitably, in our business of cliches, English commentators will question whether the boy from Arguineguín, a fishing village in southern Gran Canaria, can handle the "physical" Premier League. The inference makes him smile and roll his eyes simultaneously. "It's not that easy in Spain either, you know," he points out. "There are people who can dish it out there as well. It's not something that daunts me in any way." Indeed Silva can be a feisty little so-and-so. Luis Aragonés, the former Spain manager, once described him as having the "biggest balls" in the national team.

Vicente del Bosque, Aragonés's successor, singled out Silva last season as a candidate for the Ballon d'Or. But the World Cup left him with mixed emotions. "I started out in the team but then we lost the first game against Switzerland and it all changed after that. I didn't get an explanation and I didn't ask for one, just as if I take someone else's place I wouldn't expect an explanation.

"But the thing is, we made the country so happy and it was just great to be part of that, even if I didn't feature much. Of course I would have liked to play more. But at the same time to see everyone so happy, so overjoyed, that was a wonderful feeling. That was some kind of compensation."

On Wednesday Silva scored the equaliser for Spain in a 1-1 draw in Mexico. He did not arrive back until Thursday evening and, jet-lagged, it is not certain whether he will start today's lunchtime kick-off at Tottenham Hotspur. But he has been bought to fix a place in the team. Silva's signing is a significant reason why Mancini is happy for Craig Bellamy and Robinho to leave.

"I spoke to Torres and Reina about what it would be like moving to England and they confirmed it will be very competitive and that it is a great place to play. Money is not the main issue here. What is important is trying to win trophies and get in the Champions League. And I know I can do that here. This club is going to places I want to visit."

Sauce is saucy

And now for the pics...

Thumbs up? Not for that hair, darling.

Much better.

I see this pic and I hear Beyonce's Single Ladies. Can't help it.

This is begging for a caption. Halp??

"Xabi! I has a nose!" (Any excuse to post a Xabi pic, really)

Tags: club: manchester city, david silva, league: english premier league (epl), yes please

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