Former Villarreal winger Samu Castillejo has revealed that his year with current Villlarreal manager Marcelino Garcia Toral drove him to therapy. In spite of it, he credits Marcelino with his maturity and development as a person and a player.
Castillejo crossed paths with Marcelino for just over a year after moving from Malaga in 2015 as one of the most promising young talents in Spanish football.
“It was a spectacular year. The first year you leave home, new companions, new city, Marcelino who, furthermore, at that time you are young and you do not know the character of people enough, you are not capable of… I went from good words, from someone docile like Javi Gracia, to a totally different character like that of Marcelino, who pushes you to the limit, who shouts at you, who is a coach who is very much a perfectionist, who is on top of you in training. Then you value it, over the years. You realise that he made me grow a lot, he made me mature as a footballer, as a person and also that he is a great coach, because his results and his game say so.”
Relevo quizzed Castillejo on what exactly he told him.
“(Laughs) Also in meetings, where he used very harsh words. In meetings where the words remain between players and coaches, which are private, but it was very hard, very demanding and at the time at 20 years old you don’t realise it and you don’t value it. It’s like when at school ‘the teacher has it against me’, well I thought the same thing. Then over the years you realise that thanks to him I also matured a lot and on a sporting level he also helped me a lot.”
“Another thing that you also live with is that being a footballer there are times when you don’t have the right to go out for a drink, to go out to dinner with your partner or with your friends, and I think that’s another thing that isn’t talked about. and it is criticised a lot.… pic.twitter.com/cLz8WYdEJ2
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Above all, Castillejo thanks Marcelino for helping him find his personality on and off the pitch.
“In finding character in you from where you don’t have it, because I have always been quiet, even if it doesn’t seem like it. It was very ‘when asked, I answer, and when told, I go.’ And that at the time helped me bring out the character and strength where I thought there was none. Tactically, he also helped me a lot because in the end when you are young you get a little lost on the pitch, and he helped me a lot. I entered a spectacular locker room, I spent three years where I have left colleagues and friends who still talk to each other, call each other. Jaume, Bruno, Mario, Asenjo, Víctor Ruiz, Trigueros… We were a spectacular group.”
Yet he also admits that it was one of the toughest years of his life, with Marcelino’s demands getting to him. He felt at the time as if he was picked on, although he now realises this is not the case.
“Yes, yes, I’m telling you, I lived a tough year on a psychological level, because he took you to the limit, and at that moment I didn’t have the strength, I didn’t have the character. Not to be able to face it, but to, at certain moments, be able to defend yourself. But I already told you that that helped me a lot in my career and in my career.”
Which led him to seek outside help.
“Yes Yes. Apart from leaning on my family, I had external support because I didn’t feel strong enough to handle it, but it made me grow a lot. It made me realise the other part of football, that not all of it is pampering and good words, which is what I had been experiencing years ago and was used to. At that moment you have a very bad time, it is difficult for you. It’s difficult for you because it’s difficult, you need help and in the end he made me improve and obviously I thank him, although at that moment I wanted to kill him, now I remember it and the truth is that it helped me a lot.”
And the Sassuolo winger explained exactly what having a psychologist brought to him.
“In the end it is therapy, it is being able to open up and be able to tell what was happening to you and from there try to make yourself stronger or forge a character that perhaps you thought you didn’t have, try to make yourself better in all aspects. And that moment helped me, it helped me a lot.”
Recently Villarreal captain Manu Trigueros said he was glad to have Marcelino back at La Ceramica, noting the fact that the Asturian coach will ‘break your balls’ was a positive for him regarding a coach. While Marcelino is not alien to falling out with his players, and those above him too, most speak positively of his impact on them.