by Aziza Uko
A day off their UEFA Europa Cup win Fernando Torres, Victor Moses, Juan Mata, and Oscar – the four ambassadors of the Samsung-Chelsea FC Dream the Blues Campaign sat down to a press conference at the Chelsea Football Club Training Ground at Cobham, UK on May 17, 2013. Present at the event were media from seven countries – Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Thailand, China, Brazil, and Mexico. Nigeria was represented exclusively by YNaija and the event was anchored by Jason Cundy and the Chelsea FC stars opened up on a range of issues from Torres’ hairstyle decisions, their childhood football heroes, and how dreams come true.
In addition to cutting the picture of uncommon humility, the four Dream the Blues Ambassadors left us with 20 life-lessons that could prove invaluable to young footballers and, in deed, everyone.
1. No matter what you achieve, always seek to improve on your best performance. (Juan Mata)
JASON CUNDY: And, Juan, you have had a fantastic last couple of years. FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League and back to back Player of the Year. You must have loved your time here at Chelsea?
MATA: Thank you, yes, it is true. The last two years have for me have been amazing, winning the trophies. The last night for me was special winning the Player of the Year Award. I am happy here, this football, this city and the only thing I want is to improve.
2. It is possible to fulfill all your dreams (Oscar)
JASON CUNDY: Oscar, as a young footballer growing up what were your dreams and have you achieved any of those so far?
OSCAR: I am very happy. I managed to fulfill all my dreams. I am playing in one of the best clubs in Europe, I am very happy.
3. Sowing seeds into young people can make a world of difference (Fernando Torres)
JASON CUNDY: Fernando, how does it feel having to help some of these young kids fulfill their dreams?
TORRES: It is wonderful to have the chance to play with kids. I think the chances that Samsung and Chelsea Football Club give to them are huge. I wish to have this chance when I was a kid. It was difficult for me even to find a football pitch or a space to play football.
4. Your dreams are not far away; persistence and hard work are key to achieving them (Fernando Torres)
TORRES: So they had the chance to play, great facility, time with the players they are watching and need to be. So they can realise they can become a footballer and their dreams can come true. It is not far away. It is just they have to keep trying and enjoying and working so hard.
5. Enjoying what you do is essential to success (Juan Mata)
JASON CUNDY: What are the benefits you think they can take from this?
MATA: We said to them when you are a kid you have to enjoy playing football. You have to try to improve and work hard but at this age you have to enjoy, and feel happy going to the training camp, going to every single game. I think it is the most important thing for them and they realise that they are happy when they are playing football.
6. Keep on working hard and you’ll succeed at what you do (Victor Moses)
JASON CUNDY: This question is to Victor, what advice would you give to children who want to pursue a football career?
MOSES: The only advice I can give them is just keep working hard. As a young footballer if you keep working hard you will see yourself at the top, no matter what, wherever you are going to be. I say, young kids growing up, you have to keep working on it, enjoy your football. As Mata said that is the most important thing. Whenever you are on the pitch the most important thing is enjoy yourself.
7. Play the game to win (Oscar)
JASON CUNDY: This question is to Oscar, it is from Mexico. With a professional footballer as a role model what responsibilities do you feel by playing in one of the most important teams in the world?
OSCAR: I feel very happy. I am aware of our responsibility. We play to win and you have to work very hard but, as Mata said, you have to enjoy. You have to enjoy because we are not playing only for England, we are playing for the whole world.
8. Nothing beats a real-life preview (experience) of a possible future (Fernando Torres)
TORRES: Yes, it was really fun to work with the kids on the Dream the Blues Campaign with my team mates and the final result is great, I think. It is a clear example of something we had when we were kids. Dreaming of doing what the people you are watching on TV, and dreaming that you are one of them and playing with them. I think one of the big things for the kids today is the same thing we want to say in the Dream the Blues advert. Your dream is not far away, it is real. They are training in the same place as us, training with us, so one day hopefully they can be the big players and some kids come and they can share the experience with them.
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9. The torch is always passed on; whether you realize it or not, you are handing something down to the generation after you (Fernando Torres)
JASON CUNDY: A long time ago were you that boy in the bed dreaming about playing?
TORRES: To be honest, when I was a kid I had plenty of posters of many of my heroes and my idols.
JASON CUNDY: Who were they?
TORRES: Some of the former Atletico Madrid players. I remember Batistuta, Thierry Henry poster, Raul, many other footballers. I wanted to be like them. So I think for the kids like them maybe they have some poster of us in their rooms, so maybe, or hopefully one day they can be the players on the posters, and some kids they get them on the wall, and they can join with them. I think it is a very real situation what we want to explain in the Dream the Blues advert.
10. In every field of life, there’s a universal language that everyone understands. In football, there’s no language more than the ball (Juan Mata)
JASON CUNDY: Juan, there are lots of different players in the Chelsea squad from various different countries and cultural backgrounds. How do you guys communicate amongst yourselves because there are so many different languages?
MATA: With a ball. That is true, we have so many players from, for example, Brazil, Portugal, Africa, and obviously we speak in English. We try to speak in English. But to be honest the Spanish, we speak to each other in Spanish, the Portuguese in Portuguese, but I think, as I said, when we are, or when we feel really comfortable speaking on the pitch with a ball. In football there is no language more than the ball.
11. In the game, the most important thing is to score a goal (Victor Moses)
JASON CUNDY: This question is from China to Victor, it says what kind of qualities should an outstanding player have?
MOSES: You should have a lot technically — like, the most important thing is to score goals. Defenders can score goals as well, even goalies can score goals as well. So, yeah, it is easy to get technique and then the most important thing is working hard and training and then trying to improve in anything that you want to do as a footballer and when it is time for games so it is a lot easier for you to actually do when you want to play a game.
12. A father’s example is just about the strongest a man can have (Juan Mata)
MEDIA FROM THAILAND: This question is to Juan. Congrats on the award. I want to know, like, when you were a kid who was your role model or the hero player that you look up to?
MATA: Well, first of all, my father was a football player. I used to look up for him. I remember going to his dressing room, sharing the moment with his team mates, going to the stadium to watch him with my mother and my sister. So he was the first person I ever look up to. After that players like Aimar, Zidane, Ronaldinho, for me one of the best in the history.
13. Hard work is important, but even more important is to show your quality when it really counts (Victor Moses)
JASON CUNDY: Most people don’t think footballers work that hard but to get in your guys’ position there are years and years of hard work that go unrecognised and even go unseen.
MOSES: No, to be a footballer you definitely have to work hard as a footballer. The most important thing is to keep on training and improving in any areas you think to do that. When it comes to games it is for you to show your quality.
14. Something you enjoy doing as a hobby, could very well transform into a profession (Fernando Torres)
JASON CUNDY: This question here is to Fernando. How were you discovered as a footballer? At what age were you identified?
TORRES: Well, to be honest, as Mata said before, for me enjoying is the key. So when I played my first game as a professional, that was when I realised I could be a professional footballer. So I never saw playing as a professional as a target, per say, or had any extra pressure to become a professional player. I was enjoying playing with my team mates, they were my friends. When I was 17, I played my first game as a professional and it was then I realized, I am already here. So, I have been working so hard but enjoying the game at the same time. I never felt the pressure. So maybe after to play four or five games in the row I realise I can be part of the team and then I said maybe that could be my profession but always at the same time a hobby, something to enjoy.
15. You don’t have to be exactly like your hero; be you and you can still succeed (Victor Moses)
JASON CUNDY: This question is from Nigeria, for Victor. Who are your favourite footballers and why?
MOSES: Growing up as a kid I always had a hero and I always watched French football when I was little, and his name was Zidane. I admired him a lot, one of the best footballers we have ever seen in Europe. He was a great player before he retired, so he was my hero.
JASON CUNDY: Do you try to model any parts of your game on him?
MOSES: No, I always want to learn things from him as a young kid growing up. He is a great player.
16. No story of greatness is told without a mother (Juan Mata)
JASON CUNDY: Is it different, Juan, in Spain as it is in England how kids are spotted? Scouts go out to watch football games at a young age?
MATA: No, it is the same, it is the same. Like in England we have very good academies with good training grounds. As Fernando said before the kids today are so lucky, having this amazing dressing rooms, pitches. I remember when I was a kid my mum used to say to me “I always have to wash your clothes, they are so dirty.” But today, lucky, most of the pitches are from artificial grass so it is better for the kids to improve. I think in Spain as in England and in Europe in general I think there are a lot of quality in the little kids.
17. To succeed you have to understand a new environment and learn to adapt to it (Juan Mata)
MEDIA FROM NIGERIA: My question is for Mata. Having made a move from La Liga, what have been the major differences in the English Premier League and how was your transition?
MATA: Well, to be honest, it is different, the English football from the Spanish one. I think here in England you need to be stronger. I am not. But you need to and you need to change your playing in a way. The defenders are stronger, the football is more physical. There are some points in the game where it gets really crazy and you have to run box to box, so physically you have to be ready. I think for players like me, with my conditions, I really like to play in this football because maybe you find some gaps that in Spanish football is harder to find. I think that is why I am really enjoying this football.
18. A true star always acknowledges his team mates; he knows that his light shines brighter because he plays close to them (Victor Moses)
JASON CUNDY: You were at Crystal Palace and Wigan before you came to Chelsea. How different is it playing for Chelsea than Wigan and Crystal Palace?
MOSES: It is a lot different. The players that Chelsea has are a lot different from the players that Wigan and Crystal Palace have got as well. Making the big step and it means a lot to me and playing along side Fernando Torres and Juan Mata and Oscar, it has really meant a lot to me. They are great players and it is an honour to play alongside them.
19. Stay hungry and it’ll help you to keep on improving (Juan Mata)
JASON CUNDY: This question is for Juan from Nigeria, what do you put down your fantastic figures this season, assists, and goals scored on the back of last season, you seem to be getting better and better, what do you put that down to?
MATA: I think it is just work and I try to be better. I am still hungry, I think I can improve in many ways in my play and the only thing I want is getting better and next season hopefully I can improve these stats.
JASON CUNDY: Another Player of the Year next year?
MATA: I will try, why not? I will try, I will try.
20. When faced with a stronger and bigger opponent, look for the gaps in his play and capitalise on them (Juan Mata)
JASON CUNDY: Mata and Juan, the same question to you because, again, the physicality of the Premier League is very different to La Liga but you guys seem to deal with it. Were you prepared for it?
MATA: The gym. We do the gym.
JASON CUNDY: You seem to rise to the challenges and seem to be able to deal with the physicality of the Premier League?
MATA: Players like Oscar and me we have to try and avoid defenders in our way, we have to think before them and be ready for the — for the strong, but they are. So we have to try to find the gaps between them, between the other players and I think the English football let us to do it because sometimes there are so many spaces.
YNaija was in London to cover the event courtesy of Samsung Electronics West Africa Limited