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Tuesday, 20 February 2007


Jimmy Rice 20 February 2007
Spanish starlet Francisco Duran talks to liverpoolfc.tv about his love for Barcelona, reported interest from Arsenal and Rafa's reputation in Spain.
How are you settling in?

It's quite a contrast to the Costa del Sol, mostly in terms of the weather and the food. I'm getting there though, settling in slowly but surely. I'm living with an English family – at the moment I can speak only a little bit of the language.

Describe how you felt when you signed for Liverpool?

It was a great moment. It's every young boy's dream to sign for a big club. Having said that, you don't achieve anything by putting your signature on a piece of paper. I've got to play well now I'm here and I've got to continue developing as a player.

When did you first hear of Liverpool's interest?

The week before I signed I started seeing news in Spanish newspapers saying there were a number of Spanish teams, among them Zaragoza, interested. There were also a couple of English teams – Arsenal amongst them. Anyway, I got a call from Eduardo Macia at Liverpool after a Sunday night match. Eduardo tipped me off that on the Monday Liverpool would be making an official offer. The offer was not to Malaga, as I didn't have a binding contract with them. The offer was to me. I came here on the Tuesday, a day before the transfer deadline.

What swung it for Liverpool over the other clubs?

Apart from the fact they are one of the biggest teams in football history, it helped that there are so many Spanish-speaking players and staff here. It's like having a little part of Spain right here in England. I also chose England over Spain because I think young players get more chances over here.

What did you know about Rafa before you arrived?

Rafa was obviously really highly-rated in Spain when he was Valencia coach, but then to come over here and win the Champions League in his first season with Liverpool, well that just sealed his reputation as one of the best managers around. I've been following Liverpool since he arrived because I have been interested to see how the Spanish players have done.

Is he seen as the top Spanish coach?

Spain coach Luis Aragones has been under all kinds of pressure, and every time websites or newspapers do a poll about who should take over, the fans always choose Rafa as the man they'd want. He is very popular and very well-respected.

What has Rafa told you about your role here?

I've only had a couple of days where I've been able to talk to him because I've been off with the Spanish under-20s. We've been playing a tournament in the Canary Islands against Denmark and the Czech Republic. He's told me I'll be starting out in the reserves. He said I need to settle in as quickly as possible and, if I do that, I'll start to get opportunities in the first team.

Which players have helped you to settle in?

Obviously, because of the language, it's been the Spanish-speaking ones. Miki Roque has been helping me a lot. I knew him already because last November we had an under-20s get together in Spain and he was there. Godwin was there too because, even though he is Ghanaian, his dad has links with Spain. Ronald Huth has helped too, because he's in the same boat as me having just arrived.

Did you know any of the other Spanish lads before you arrived?

No, not personally. Josemi was at Malaga but he is much older so we never came into contact.

What qualities can you bring to LFC?

I am an attacking central midfielder. I wouldn't say I had an English style. I am a Spanish-style player. I think I have a good touch and am good on the ball. Maybe I'm a creative midfielder in the mould of Xavi for Barcelona.

Talk me through your career so far?

I was at a small club in the town where I grew up, Almargen. Then when I was 13 I left my family and friends to join a team called Mortadelo in Malaga. When I was 16 I joined Malaga. I think my rise has been dramatic. I was playing in the youth team just a month ago. We were playing on hard pitches. Then suddenly I got called up to play in the Cope del Rey after we lost 3-0 at home to Zaragoza in the first leg. The manager decided to give some youngsters a chance in the second leg. I played 90 minutes, did well, got an assist and got picked for three more league game. Then I came here.

How do the training methods compare in Liverpool to what you've been used to?

We have a Spanish fitness coach here, so the difference is not too great. The training sessions are similar.

Who do you support?

Barcelona! The majority of my family support either Malaga or, like the rest of Spain, Real Madrid. I don't know why I chose Barca, but I've supported them since I was little.

You don't want them to win, do you?

Of course not! Also, I think Liverpool will have a lot of fans in Spain during this game.

What's the feeling in Barca about the game?

Barca have had a dip in form over the last couple of months but they've got Messi and Eto'o back now. If they can get back to the way they have been playing over the last three years, most teams will struggle against them. Having said that, I'm hopeful Liverpool can find a way to beat them.

Who should Liverpool be worried about?

Although he's not as well known internationally, Iniesta is a tremendous player. Deco and Xavi in midfield are also influential.

Moving on, who are your idols?

Riquelme, Iniesta, Xavi.

Finally, have you set a target for when you'd like to be in the first team?

I don't think you can put a time-span on that kind of thing. I've just got to keep working on a day-to-day basis and make sure I'm ready when my chance comes along. Like I said before, I've had quite a dramatic rise. I was in the youth team at Malaga and everyone was saying I should be in the first team, yet I'd not even played for the reserves yet. You never know what is going to happen.

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