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Feyenoord striker Santiago Giménez reveals that he wanted to be a defender

The Mexican forward has been linked with some of the biggest teams in the world, but playing in attack was never his first choice.

Santiago Giménez reveals he never wanted to be a striker

Mexican forward Santiago Giménez has revealed that he wanted to be a defender in his youth but his father, also a former professional footballer, insisted that he become a striker.

In an interview with Fox Sports, the 22-year-old admitted that in his youth he preferred stopping goals to scoring them. However former Pachuca and Cruz Azul midfielder Christian Giménez pushed him to play further forward instead.

“I always wanted to play central defence, but my dad never let me,” Giménez said. “He told me I had to be [a number] nine. I had to play as a striker, but since I was a child I always wanted to play there and they never let me.”

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Santiago Giménez helped Feyenoord to the Eredivisie title last season.MAURICE VAN STEENEFE

Since making his Cruz Azul debut at the age of 16, Giménez has justified his father’s decision to push him further up-field. A successful spell with La Máquina brought interest from Europe and he made the move to Dutch side Feyenoord last summer.

Giménez forced to adapt to a new style with Feyenoord

His first season in Europe was a huge success as Giménez finished as top scorer for Eredivisie champions Feyenoord. He struck 23 goals in all competitions as the team won their first league title in six years.

However the adjustment to life in Europe was not easy for Giménez, as he explained in his interview with Fox Sports.

At the beginning it was very difficult for me physically, I don’t know if it’s something in the league, but they ask that the defences and the goalkeeper be pressured for 90 minutes,” he said.

“I think that the intensity that they ask of us was what cost me the most at the beginning.”

However moving to Feyenoord did give Giménez the opportunity to emulate one of his footballing idols; Robin van Persie.

“I learned from him all my life since I was a child,” Giménez said of the former Manchester United and Arsenal forward. “He always impressed me as a player and today I am fortunate to have met him.

“He has given me several tips and suggestions... I have carried them out and it has been reflected [on the pitch]. It’s not only him, all the staff have helped me a lot.”