Sergio Reguilón: Big Names, Big Games

by 24britishtvApril 3, 2024, 10 p.m. 23
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It’s not very often you can sit down with a player and discuss going head-to-head with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, sharing a dressing room with Harry Kane and Karim Benzema, being coached by Zinedine Zidane and José Mourinho, and winning a European cup.

But Brentford defender Sergio Reguilón does exactly that, as he makes himself comfortable in a chair in the first-team meeting room at the Robert Rowan Performance Centre, reflecting on his first three months with the Bees and his glittering career, in general.

It’s hard to know where to start when, as alluded to, you look through the illustrious list of the players and managers Reguilón has played with and against.

However, one name catches the eye immediately - but not for the reason you might think.

Sat just between Joe Hart and Jordi Alba in the alphabetic list of his former team-mates is a former Brentford player, who, upon further research, he played with during his time on loan at Spanish third-tier side Logroñés during the 2015/16 campaign as an 18-year-old.

So, the name is posed to him, not expecting any sort of reaction, seeing as it may have been nearly a decade since he had even thought about the ex-Bee: “Joel Valenica?”, Reguilón confirms. “Yes, I know him! I have a funny story.

“When I arrived at the club, Joel just said to me, ‘Mate, come to my house if you don’t have one’ - so I lived in his house for a week while I settled in at the club!

“He was a good guy, a very good person, and a top player, particularly in 1v1 situations, I remember.

“He’s now playing in Poland but we lost contact; that happens a lot because I’ve played in a lot of teams, I can’t speak to everyone, it’s difficult which is a shame.”

As Reguilón mentions, he’s played in a lot of teams and, when you take a quick glance at his former clubs, some pretty prestigious ones too: Real Madrid, Sevilla, Tottenham Hotspur, Atlético Madrid, Manchester United. And, now, Brentford.

The first in that list, 14-time European Cup winners Real Madrid, is where Reguilón began his career, as he joined the academy of the Spanish giants, which saw him live the life that every young football fan can only dream of.

When asked how he was scouted by Real, he explains: “In Spain, you can do a test to join Real Madrid when you are young, but it’s thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of kids trying to go there.

“I did a fantastic game, I got to the next step and got to go to the training ground with the best players around a similar age to me. We did small games, I played fantastic again, and they gave me the chance to sign for Real Madrid when I was seven.

“When I eventually got into the academy, I realised I was so lucky because everyone wanted to be where I was - playing for Real Madrid.”

Asked how he ensured that he was selected over all those other children, he states: “I don’t know, maybe because I was better?! I’m not sure, I was young but I’d played football all my life and I just had the quality in that moment.”

Reguilón initially played for Real’s reserve team, Castilla (either side of his season-and-a-half loan spell with Logroñés), where he made 48 appearances in Segunda División B, the former third tier of Spanish football.

On getting into the Castilla squad, he says: “I was on to the next level. You are close to being professional, you are in the second team of Real Madrid.

“It’s a big step but, of course, I see many Castilla players that don’t make it to the first team. It’s difficult but, in my head, I knew I was too close not to make it, I had to give it the last push.

“The most important thing for the last push is your head. Okay, you can maybe get a good contract when you are in the under-23s but it’s not enough - you have to look ahead and fight to be a professional footballer in the top division.”

As you can imagine, there were some special players in that Castilla squad alongside Reguilón. Marcos Llorente (Atlético Madrid), Borja Mayoral (Getafe) and Mariano Diaz (Sevilla) are just a few names that the Bees man highlights, along with current Arsenal captain Martin Ødegaard, who joined the Castilla squad in a much-talked about deal at the age of 16.

On his former Real Madrid team-mate, Reguilón states: “I have a good relationship with Martin, he is a top player, fantastic boy.

“He came to Real Madrid when he was very, very young. At that stage, I think it was too young, he had too many people looking at him.

“There was a lot of pressure. Everyone wanted him to do some skills and impress, but he needed to just start simple to gain some confidence.

“But he’s had a great career and the move to Arsenal was the right one because the football they play is very, very good for him and now he is captain, he’s a key player, and I’m very happy for him because he’s one of my friends from football.”

And it wasn’t just talented players he worked with at Castilla - he was also coached by Zinedine Zidane, a manager that went on to win three Champions Leagues on the spin, having won numerous trophies, including the Ballon d’Or during his playing days.

“Zizou, wow,” says Reguilón. “He was a top player and I think it was clear that he could become a manager.

“When you are training with him, you feel that quality, you feel that every piece of advice that he gives you is for something, it’s because he knows, he was on the pitch.

“You get his words with a special feeling. Every word that he says, you can’t pay enough attention to it.

“He’s not necessarily a tactical coach; it’s more that he knows the players, he knows the dressing the room, it’s about the atmosphere that he creates.”

Asked if he was starstruck when he first worked with him, Reguilón smiles: “When Zizou is training with you, of course!

“He’s a top manager, you can see the results, he won three Champions League in a row! He’s one of the best managers of all time.”

Reguilón eventually worked with Zidane again when he was promoted to the Real Madrid first team ahead of the 2018/19 campaign; the season after they had beaten Liverpool in the Champions League final.

The full-back was now training with some of the iconic players that were involved that night, something he, at first, struggled to get his head around.

You can read the full interview in Wednesday's match programme; available to buy online, and in and around Gtech Community Stadium for £3.
• None "There was a great noise inside the stadium on Saturday evening. You stuck with the players, made your voices heard and drove the team on in those dramatic final minutes. Please give us everything you have again" - head coach Thomas Frank shares his thoughts before the Seagulls' visit to TW8
• None Brian Owen, sports reporter for The Argus, gives his views on Roberto De Zerbi's side in Hot off the Press
• None The latest On the Rise looks at the story of the 2013/14 season in facts and stats, taken from A Pub on Each Corner, written by Jonathan Burchill
• None Brentford B winger Kyreece Lisbie speaks about his struggle with a number of things in his fledgling career, from being told no by clubs before arriving at Brentford and battling injuries - and the young winger is helping to inspire others on social media via his TikTok account, which has 556.7k followers and more than 14 million likes
• None Stadium (as well as in the Dugout)
• None Programmes are available after the game from the Bees Merchandise Kiosk and the Bees Superstore (Lionel Road South)

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