Carlos Vela goes to Hollywood
The Mexico forward talks Arsene Wenger, meeting Will Ferrell and why he snubbed the World Cup
“WE CERTAINLY TALK ABOUT GOING BEYOND THE LAST 16, BUT WE WON’T STOP THERE IT’S ABOUT LEAVING A MARK”
You joined Los Angeles FC for their debut season in MLS. Have you enjoyed it so far? It’s been amazing. All my friends feel a bit jealous now because I live in Los Angeles and I’m part of a very exciting project. I’m very happy that I made the move. I played in Europe for over 10 years and wanted to be closer to my friends and family – for Mexicans that’s important.
You were announced as the new club’s first ever signing. Was that an honour? I felt special when I first signed. Last year I made it clear what I wanted. I told my agent, ‘I want to go to Los Angeles.’ That was my No.1 goal and it’s all worked out. I’d had a few opportunities to join MLS with different teams, but always said no. I wanted to wait for the right situation. We’ve put a strong team together and I hope we can win lots of titles. It doesn’t matter that we’re new to MLS. I believe we are strong enough to compete with any team.
Will Ferrell was there to welcome you on arrival. What was that like? Meeting Will was a great pleasure and everyone at LAFC made me feel at home. They made me feel really important. I want to be a key player for the city and it’s amazing how quickly we’ve gained so many fans in Los Angeles. We are looking forward to the rivalry with the Galaxy and want to become the No.1 team in LA.
You’re going to the World Cup with Mexico this month. How do you rate the team’s chances in Russia? I believe this is the strongest Mexico team in years. This might be the one tournament we’ve all waited for. Our confidence is very high and for me it’s a special challenge. After not playing at the last World Cup, I’m very hungry and want to demonstrate that I can help the team. I’ve prepared well for this year’s tournament, so I hope the coach picks me.
Why did you decide against playing at the 2014 World Cup? I missed all of the qualifiers and they called me up at the last minute, but it was too late. For me, it just wasn’t fair. Throughout the qualification process you don’t want me to play, but then suddenly I should join you? My friends went through some tough battles and earned their place on the plane – I did not deserve it. This time it’s different.
Your first group game is against the holders, Germany. Can you produce a surprise? There’s a very good ambience around the group, which is crucial. It doesn’t matter who’s playing, we always work together and all want the same things for the team. We’ve known each other for a long time, so that should also be a major advantage for us.
How huge would it be for Mexico to reach the quarter-finals, after going out in the last 16 at each of the past six World Cups? We certainly talk about finally going beyond the last 16. We want that and even more in Russia – we won’t stop. It’s not just about getting to the fifth match of the competition – it’s about putting in some great performances and leaving a mark. We all hope we can have a memorable tournament.
You started your career at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. What were your thoughts when he left the club at the end of the season? It was a hard moment for everybody. When a manager or player has a long career at one club, the moment you say goodbye is extremely tough. But when it’s all over, you’ll look back and remember mainly the good moments. Arsene did a great job at Arsenal and there’s no doubt he’s one of the best managers in the world. I just want to use the opportunity to thank him for everything that he’s done for me and my football career.