Samper: "Barça have to keep faith in the academy and bringing players through"
Samper played at every age group coming through Barcelona's famed academy ranks but leave for Japan after advice from Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique.
Sergi Samper spoke at a press conference after his departure from Barcelona was confirmed. He joined the club when he was six years old and leaves at 24 to join vissel Kobe after Barça agreed to terminate his contract.
Prior to the press conference, Samper said "you are never quite ready tosay goodbye. After 18 years, this stage of my sporting career ends at the club of my life. Thanks to my grandfather as I passed from the stands to the field living through everything, in difficult times, relegations and injuries but growing up with the generation of 95, who were like a family. From playing with my idols and the best in the world, I have great memories. I sweat in the jersey and I want to give thanks to the medical staff, employees, directors and my teammates. I could never thank my family enough for making me stronger and more brave. I will go where I'm going with desire to make history without fear and without forgetting where I came from. The club of my life."
What was your best moment as a culé?
I can't say just one. There were 18 years and it's difficult to pick one. The day of the exams in the Bará school, we lost 13-1 but they chose me. It was a life experience.
At 24, what made you decide to leave?
I want to play and they have given me the opportunity. When you sit down with the owner of the club and the founder and they explain to you the project to turn it into one of the best teams in Asia and they tell you that you are key to their dreams. They want to play with our style and Iniesta called me to convince me.
Do you feel bad not finishing the season?
Yes. I have always said that I wanted to be successful here and lift as many titles as I could but you have to make decisions.
What is the most important thing Barcelona has given you?
I cam here when I was six and I am going at 24. I was a kid and I know I won't be going alone. I have met many friend and the values that the club has taught me. I know that this will always be the case.
Do you leave with some pain?
It's obvious that once you get here, you want things to go well but it doesn't just depend on me. I am going with a clear conscience that I have given the best of myself.
Did Piqué have an influence?
The key was Andrés and he said to me many times that it is a good place and Gerard also advised me. The news came to me through him. I am very thankful.
Is it a round trip?
It's not an easy decision to leave at 24 years of age for Japan. I didn't have it planned but having a look at what the project involves. I want to feel important and valued. It was an incredible opportunity. The future, we'll see. I'm focused on the present.
Has the bad luck with injuries affected you?
I haven't had good luck in that sense. The injuries have hurt me. I am convinced that things would have gone much better if I was not injured.
How have the last few days been?
They've been complicated. My family and those close to me have helped. It's a difficult decision but I thought a lot about it.
What did Iniesta say?
He explained to me how to play. They want to play a lot of football, they are very technical and he says they I will enjoy. I'm excited to start.
What made you decide?
I decided in a week based on a lot of things. What I got from the project is very interesting. They were very interested in me. Everything happened in four or five days. I know that it's a risky decision with a change of continent and life but I want to try it for myself. I believe a lot in myself.
What message do you give the youngsters at Barcelona now?
i can only say marvellous things. I take so many good things from the people who have helped me. You have to be humble and think about the day to day and have your feet on the ground without make plans. Listen to the managers.
You are an unprecedented case. All of the age groups up to the first team. Is it difficult to do?
Yes, keeping in mind that they are the best in the world. What has made Barcelona great is the work at the academy and to keep bringing players through. This can never change. It's how we have gone so well.