- *Real Madrid begin their bid for a 13th Champions League title on Wednesday *
- Los Blancoswill vie for a second consecutive Club World Cup crown in December
- Nacho Fernandez chats about his time at the club and the tournament in the UAE
Nacho Fernandezis aReal Madrid man through and through. “You’re a real Viking,” said one of the employees at the agency that represents him, drawing a grin from the defender, who is only too happy to be associated with one of the club’s nicknames.
Though he does not like to brag about it, Nacho has spent his whole career with Real Madrid, all 16 years of it -more than any other member of the current squad. “I hope there are many more to come, and if there are I’ll be working day in day out to make yet more dreams come true,” he said.
Two dreams on the horizonThe first of them begins this Wednesday, when Nacho will once again hear the UEFA Champions League anthem ring out at the Santiago Bernabeu. Having won the trophy in three of the last four seasons, the Spanish club begin their latest defence of it against Apoel of Cyprus, and are aiming to become the first side to win the competition three times in a row since Bayern Munich in 1976.
The second will have to wait until December, when they travel to the United Arab Emirates with designs on claiming the FIFA Club World Cup for a third time. In part two of his exclusive interview with FIFA.com, Nacho discussed the tournament and his long ties with Los Blancos.
A lifelong Madrid fan“I always had Madrid posters and flags in my bedroom when I was a little kid. So did my brother (Alex, who is also a professional footballer). We collected flags and badges of other teams too, but the Spain and Madrid flags were always there.”
Picked out by Del Bosque“I joined the club in 2000 and I’m so proud to be here. I’m at home, where I want to be. I remember that I had a trial with them. They picked me but I couldn’t stay to begin with and I had to go back to my team, AD Complutense, in Alcala de Henares. I was picked out by a coach who’s at my academy now and Vicente del Bosque. It was a very special day and I hope I’ve got many more left.”
A tilt at a third world title“We’ve got the chance to keep on making history. No club had ever won the Champions League twice in a row before and nobody has ever won back-to-back Club World Cups. We’ve got the chance to fly the Madrid flag high again at this Club World Cup. We’ve got a great squad and all we have to do is go out there and play well.”
Real Madrid and the Club World Cup
- This year’s FIFA Club World Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, from 6-16 December.
- Seven clubs are taking part: the champions of the six confederations and the league champions of the host country.
- Qualifiers: Real Madrid (UEFA), Pachuca (CONCACAF), Auckland City (OFC) and Al Jazira (UAE league champions). The teams representing Africa, Asia and South America will be decided in November.
- This will be the 14th Club World Cup and Real Madrid’s fourth appearance in all, the Spaniards having also lined up in 2000, 2014 and 2016.
- Los Blancos finished fourth at the inaugural event and won the Morocco 2014 and Japan 2016 editions. Should Real Madrid hoist the trophy aloft again this year, they will become the only team to win the competition twice in a row, and the most successful side in its history, an honour they would share with arch rivals Barcelona, winners in 2009, 2012 and 2015.