“Mistakes come when you lose concentration for one second“
Making the move to Europe from Argentina . . .
“It is strange because normally you play first in your country. Somebody sees you and you have the chance to move to Europe. Normally most of the players in Argentina want to play in Europe. My case was different. I did not play much back home, only two games for the first team. Then I had the opportunity. Should I stay and play a bit more in my country to see what happens? Or should I take the opportunity and go and try my luck abroad? I decided to take it. It was a good opportunity for me and I took it.”
Joining Crystal Palace . . .
“After I had played about 3 years at Dundee, Palace got promoted to the Premier League. They were looking for a goalkeeper and I think they had been following me for a while. They decided I was good enough to play for them and decided to sign me.”
His experience of first playing in the Premier League . . .
“The experience is unbelievable, fantastic. I mean, playing against the top players in the world, top teams in beautiful stadiums. It is crazy to think about it. After six games, the team was not playing very well - lost five and drew one. The manager had to chance things around and sadly I was one of the changes. They signed a goalkeeper, Király, from Hungary, a goalkeeper who had a lot more experience than me, international football as well. I was not happy because I came here to be a number one. It was one of the conditions we talked about when I signed my contract for Crystal Palace. I was disappointed to lose my place but I knew I had to be patient and keep working and at some point I would get another chance. It took two and a half years to get another chance but I knew I had to be patient.”
The quality of Wilfried Zaha . . .
“He is unbelievable. Very talented. The talent he has is unbelievable. But of course it is not just one player. All the players are doing very well. When we attack, we attack as a team and when we defend, we defend as a team.”
His Crystal Palace highlights . . .
“Playing in the Premier League was one of the highlights. As I said before that was incredible. I learned a lot along the way, how to be patient. We have ups and downs. The club has been in administration. I have been through everything here!”
His strengths as a Goalkeeper . . .
“Concentration probably. I work a lot on that because I recognise that mistakes come when you lose concentration for one second and that is when you make a mistake. So you have to work – especially when you are not involved in the game, when you are not as busy as you usually are. You have to be very concentrated because you may have to react in a split second. If you switch off, you make a mistake. Decision making is also very important for goalkeepers and in the last few years, I think I have been quite consistent in making the right decisions at the right time.”
Whether training is harder for Keepers than the rest of the team . . .
“Finally someone notices! It is the only position on the pitch where you cannot afford to make a mistake. If you make a mistake it is in the back of the net and that is it! I think that is why goalkeepers work a lot, because they know that they can reduce the number of mistakes through training. That is why. And not only on the pitch but also in the gym, you have to be strong and you have to be quick. I think that is why we do a lot of training. Someone once said the more I practise the luckier I get. That is probably why!”
Coping with criticism . . .
“I would be lying if I said I did not care. It is hard. It is hard, of course. I had a bad review a few months ago, at the beginning of the season where I thought I had a great game. We lost the game but I thought I had a great game. I thought I did very well. But I got blamed for one of the goals. You have to get used to that kind of thing because if you are going to get mad about everything you read in the papers, you are not going to be able to deal with that. You just have to deal with it and let it go”
His faith story . . .
“When I became a Christian, I was going through a very tough time. I was very tired. A lot of things were not going my way. I was very, very tired and Juan, my friend, he read to me Matthew 11:38. All you who are tired come to me and I will give you rest. 38.11. That verse, that particular verse was very helpful for me because I was really tired. I was thinking, I will have to give up. I just can’t handle it any more. And after he read that to me, I remember I prayed that night and said, “God, if you are really there, I want to leave everything in your hands. I want to give my life to you because I can’t handle it any more”.
The difference knowing Jesus makes . . .
“A Huge difference when I understood what a relationship with God was. Before I used to believe in God but I never had a relationship with God. I come from a Catholic background, like most of the people in Argentina but I rarely went to church or got involved with other Christians. When I started to read the Bible and understood the meaning and the reason why Jesus had to die for us, I understood that it was black or white and that you cannot be in between. You either are a Christian or you are not. That was the main difference for me. So I accepted Jesus and started to live a Christian life – or at least I try. I don’t always get it right.”
On being a Christian in pro football . . .
“I have been very blessed with the team mates and the manager, that I have had. I like to be open with my faith and they accepted it. I find people who accept it and people who have different opinions, different faiths, but I have been very blessed, always very respectful. I can talk to people and they will listen to you.”