Alex Calvo-Garcia: the farewell interview
Feature by Luke Thornhill
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2004
Iron legend Alex Calvo-Garcia leaves the club this summer to retire from football and return to Spain, speaking to Iron-Bru.net he talks about promotion, relegation and his love for the club.The battling midfielder has become a firm favourite in his eight years at the club, and will be remembered fondly when he returns home to Spain this summer to retire from the beautiful game.
He gives an exclusive interview to Iron-Bru.net, to discuss his time at Glanford Park, greatest memories and his plans for the future.
I spoke to my agent. I was out of contract in Spain and I asked him if there was a chance to go somewhere abroad I would be interested. I was looking for a new challenge, something different, but to be honest I didnít expect that something would come up. Just a few weeks later he came in and said there was a club in England who was interested in having me for a trial so I came over and had a trial for one month under Mick Buxton who was the manager at the time and then I signed a contract for one season.
You made your debut in the local derby at Hull, what was that like?
Yeah well I remember the football was very different to what I was used to. It was a lot quicker and more physical but before I came to England I always liked English football, the style of English football, so to me it was a privilege to be part of English football. To be honest I have fallen in love with English football, I love it now I just think it is fantastic and I have been lucky to enjoy it.
Before you came to Scunthorpe did you know anything about the club or the town?
No I didnít, in fact I had to look on the map to see where it was! It was very different to the place where I lived in Spain, the architecture, houses and everything is just completely different. I like it, it is a quiet place - Iím not a person who likes to live in big cities or surrounded by many people. I like to do my job and then have a quiet life afterwards so Iím very pleased with Scunthorpe. But most importantly I have found some unbelievable people here, very good friends. They have been very helpful people since I came to the club, people in town have always been fantastic with me.
Back to the football Ė when Brian Laws became manager was there many changes?
Well I first came here as a striker but I always saw myself as an attacking midfielder, I used to play in Spain just behind the strikers and that is something I said to Brian Laws so we just changed my position a little bit and I think it worked both for me and the club.
In 1997/98, missing out on the play-offs by one point must have been gutting?
It was, even in the previous year when Brian Laws took over we missed the play-offs but we finished the season quite well. Then the following season we carried on that run and we just missed out by one point and it was disappointing but to be honest I have got very good memories of them seasons because I felt we played very well and very offensive football and I enjoyed it.
And the next season, when we went up, a lot of people think the '99 team is the best weíve had in the past decade. What was it like being a part of that?
Well I think we had some very good players on our team. We played together for a few years and I think that season we just achieved what we were looking for and it was very, very pleasing to be part of that team because of the football we played and the atmosphere in the dressing room.
Going onto the play-off final at Wembley, how much can you remember of the goal?
Is it right that your parents flew over for the first time to see the match?
Yes, I had struggled to bring my mum over from Spain because she doesnít like flying very much. But I managed to get them over and it was just a fantastic day for them and that was the first time they had seen my play in four or five years so it was fantastic for my family as well as everyone.
That summer John Eyre and Jamie Forrester left, but was there confidence that the side would stay up?
Well I think the following year all of us made some mistakes, I think we didnít prepare in the way that we lost some players and we didnít bring other players in to substitute them. Those are the things that teach us for the future, if we get the chance again we know that maybe we have to strengthen the team a bit more. But at the time we thought the team would do well and we had confidence in that team. But it was just mistakes that you do through your career and through the years and hopefully they teach you new lessons and you take them all on board.
You broke your leg at Reading, it must have been hard watching from the sidelines?
It is always hard when you are injured, there is no other way round it. It is just frustrating. It doesnít matter if you are in any club in the world you want to play football and that is what we like doing. Being out, and especially in such a special season, was quite sad for me.
After relegation did you feel the side was good enough to come back up?
In all the years I have been at this club I have thought every single year we have had a very good chance to go up, even this season. I still think we should be up there and should be playing for a place in the play-offs at least. That is a very positive thing for this club that in the last eight years it has always been chasing for promotion, and that is a sign that things have been run very well and also you have to bear in mind that football has been through a very difficult time so that is a very positive sign.
In the play-offs last season at Lincoln what was it like losing 5-3 after youíd fought back to be 3-3?
That was one of the games that really has hurted, because first of all we never thought that was going to be such an open game. I thought maybe it was going to be a 1-0 or 0-0 game, and all of a sudden we find ourselves three-all and the game is still open but I think we showed a lack of experience in there after levelling. We should have done better but we conceded two goals and it is one of the games that has hurt me most.
And in the second leg do you think we should have pulled it back?
Well I thought we were capable of it, but Lincoln also had a very, very easy plan to come over here to be strong and solid so it was always going to be a very difficult task.
Now that youíre retiring youíre having a benefit dinner and match, how much does it mean to you to have big names like Mendieta and Jordi Cruyff coming?
It is not 100 per cent confirmed, I have just spoken to the players and the players have agreed to come. It is just a matter of speaking to their clubs but hopefully there will be no problems with that. It just makes me feel so proud of being here and it is something that is really unbelievable. There is no better way to finish your career really.
What plans have you got for when you return to Spain?
At the moment everything is a bit uncertain, Iím looking at different options. The main call is to finish my degree and then move on after that to try and find a job. Basically my and my wife, the way we see it life is just trying to be happy. That is what we thought when we first came to England, our main priority was to be happy and now we have to start again in Spain it is just the same situation. Weíre looking forward to just being happy and having a normal life in Spain.
From your eight years with the club is there anything you would change at all?
I wouldn't change anything, I think I have lived the most exciting years of my life here. I have done things that I never thought I would do when I first came, not only professionally but also personally I lived some great experiences and Iím just proud of what I did. I wouldnít change anything, if I had to live the last eight years again I would come straight away to Scunthorpe.
Please show your support for a true Iron legend by turning out for his benefit match on May 3 (KO 3PM). The 1999 promotion side will play against an invitation XI which promises many star names.