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Albiol: "To play against Madrid with Napoli will be special"

Raúl Albiol, who spent four years with Real Madrid from 2009-13, returns to meet his old club with Napoli in the Champions League in February: "To play against them will be special for me.” Lyon vs PSG: Women´s Champions League Final

Albiol: "To play against Madrid with Napoli will be special"
ALBERT GEA REUTERS

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Ex-Real Madrid defender Raúl Albiol, who’ll be returning to the club in February with Napoli after the two clubs drew each other in Champions League last 16 earlier this week, has talked about his excitement at coming back to the Spanish capital, and the “fantastic” four years he spent there.

The centre back also defended his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who is often on the receiving end of criticism for his tetchy attitude on the field, insisting that the Portuguese is an “incredible” person.

"To play against Madrid will be special for me”

Albiol celebrates with Ronaldo during his time at the club

“I lived four fantastic years there, it’s the dream for any footballer,” said Albiol. “In the last two seasons I played much less, but it’s a spectacular club. I developed a lot; it was like being at home. To play against them will be special for me.”

Albiol, who has 51 caps for Spain, will make the trip to the Bernabéu with Napoli on 15 February for the first leg of the Champions League second round tie, and the 33-year old says the positive dressing room atmospheres he’s experienced at both sides is comparable.

“In Napoli the atmosphere is a little more family-like, we enjoy ourselves a lot, although the Madrid dressing room was also great. I had good Spanish friends, like Ramos and Xabi Alonso, and Cristiano always acted well with me.”

"Cristiano is a fantastic person"

Elaborating more on the Portuguese star, Albiol said: “He’s a fantastic person; away from football he always tries to help everybody, especially kids. He has a part of his personality that many people don’t know; people don’t know how the real Cristiano is. He works a lot to better himself every day, but he’s also very generous.”