La Roja: Captain Morata: the silent leader for a renewed Spain | Soccer | Sports
None of the labels that are usually assigned to modern footballers – frivolous, arrogant, distant; In short, far from the world that idolizes them, they correspond to Álvaro Morata (Madrid, 30 years old). And that coexists with the glamor of being the top scorer for Spain and Atlético de Madrid, in addition to being in a relationship with the Italian influencer Alice Campello. “It’s nothing like it seems,” says a federation employee. His slow walk, his timid voice and his lazy attitude contrast with that of a generous forward (paradoxical) and that of a committed guy (singular). “Álvaro is always attentive to everyone and everything,” the same sources conclude.
In the mixed zone of the La Cartuja Stadium, where Spain beat Scotland (2-0) with a goal from Morata, Bryan Zaragoza, debutant, enjoyed his moment of glory when the captain appeared accompanied by the La Roja press officers. . The Atlético forward approached Zaragoza, caressed his head and returned to his place, waiting for his turn in front of the microphones. It was not the first affectionate gesture that the Spanish captain had shown with the young Granada winger, 22, that night in Seville. Before the referee whistled the start of the second half, that is, before Zaragoza debuted with the national team after replacing Oyarzabal, Morata ran 30 meters just to give him a hug. “From the first day I arrived everyone has treated me very well, they have given me advice and supported me a lot. “I didn’t expect them to welcome me so well,” said Zaragoza. “But,” he clarified; “I stay with Álvaro, from the first day he seems like my father, he has taken great care of me, he talks to me a lot and I want to thank him.” Morata, who seemed absent while clinging to his mobile phone, raised his head and returned the gesture with a smile.
The man from Madrid does not confine his leadership exclusively to the locker room. In the run-up to the duel against Scotland, the Federation’s social responsibility area spoke with the captain of La Roja: “We are going to carry out an initiative with autistic children.” “No problem, what should I do?” Morata approached the little boy, took him by the hand and put on the noise-canceling headphones, just like the child. And so they both jumped onto the grass this Thursday. “He is an exceptional guy. He has participated in all the social causes that we propose to him,” they remember from Las Rozas. Before, he had already led a campaign against bullying, and had dedicated a goal to a child who was fighting against a major illness, coincidentally also in La Cartuja.
“I have been very lucky to play in great teams and in the national team,” Morata remembers before listing his references when it comes to leading a locker room; “I have learned from Koke, Ramos, Casillas, Iniesta, Silva, Chiellini, Bonucci… I will always try to be available for my teammates.” Captain of Spain since Sergio Busquets retired from the national team, the forward downplayed (public) importance to his new role in the locker room. “It changes little. Now I have to be a little more of a common thread between mister and the squad. Any WhatsApp messages for schedules and visits…”, he pointed out. He did not know, at that time, that a few months later he would find himself facing one of the biggest crises of the Spanish federation, after the then president, Luis Rubiales, kissed Jennifer Hermoso without his consent during the celebration of the World Cup title. female in Australia.
They were hours of tension in the Spain locker room. The men’s team group understood that they had to speak out. The problem was no longer when – in its first call – but with what tone and to whom it was mentioned. Morata, closer to the vision of his colleagues, agreed to agree on a statement in which no sensitivity would be hurt. And although Hermoso was not mentioned, Rubiales’s behavior was rejected. At first, the idea was that each of the captains (Azpilicueta, Asensio and Rodri were the other three) read a paragraph, especially the sensitive one that named the former president and for which Azpilicueta offered to read. But Morata raised his always discreet tone of voice: “Don’t worry. I am the captain. I will read it in its entirety, so that no one has to take on that mess.”
Morata had long ago learned to deal with uncomfortable situations, some of them socially intolerable. On the verge of breaking down emotionally during his time at Chelsea – “I told my wife that we should go as far away from London as possible because I couldn’t handle that pressure…”, he recalled in an interview with Cadena Cope -, for a long time time he was a victim of ridicule and harassment on social networks. “People think that I don’t notice things, but they don’t see that I’m sleepless for nine hours after the game and that I’m angry because I had a chance and Spain couldn’t win,” he said in the last Euro Cup after receiving threats and insults to his family.
Morata took refuge in his family and accepted that, in an environment that views psychologists with distrust, it was time to ask for help. She didn’t hide it. “A few years ago, if you said you were going to a psychologist or psychiatrist, they laughed at you. I have had to work on my head a lot, I have gone through moments of wanting to leave and leave everything,” he said in a conversation with El Larguero. And between his house and the Wanda Metropolitano, Morata rediscovered football, always with a stopover at La Roja, of course. After a conversation with Simeone – “Every summer I have offers, but I needed to feel important in my club,” he revealed – the forward awakened his scoring voracity at Atlético (seven goals in nine games) and in the national team: he has scored four goals in the last six games, the last against Scotland, in a key match for La Roja’s qualification for the next European Championship.
“The issue of his captaincy and the stripes he has earned have been the result of his growth. You don’t accept that role if you are not prepared,” explained Adrià Carmona, Morata’s coach in an interview with El Periódico. “If he had been more of a bastard, he probably would have had more recognition. But he didn’t do badly, he is among the five top scorers in the history of the national team.” Morata has 34, he is one goal behind Silva and 25 behind the leader of the table, David Villa (59). “There is a lot of talk about the spectacular moment that he is experiencing as a footballer, but we must give value to what he is as a person,” Carmona concluded.
Without taboos or prejudices, the Spanish bracelet drives Morata. And he responds with goals.
You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes in Facebook y Xclick here to receive our weekly newsletter.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits