“Jose’s my friend and al­ways will be. I may be 50 but I’m still scor­ing goals!”

FourFourTwo - - PLANET FOOTBALL -

OK, so he’s 34 and not 50, but is still find­ing the net: 13 times in 17 games for Turk­ish side An­talyas­por this sea­son. He’s even been man­ager – and now he has a taste for it

Be­fore the ap­point­ment of Jose Mo­rais as An­talyas­por’s new coach in Jan­uary, you were the care­taker boss. Do you have the taste for man­age­ment now? The club asked me to train the team even though I don’t have any coach­ing badges, and it was an hon­our. I planned some train­ing us­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence as a foot­baller and all the play­ers seemed to like it. I liked it, too, and I’d ac­cept an of­fer in man­age­ment if I thought I’d do it right. My phi­los­o­phy is to win by play­ing nice foot­ball. Just win­ning can’t sat­isfy me. I need to get the li­cence to work as a man­ager, but for now I’ll re­main as a player and keep play­ing un­til I get tired!

How have you found life in Turkey? The train­ing fa­cil­i­ties are al­most per­fect and An­talya is a beau­ti­ful city. It has an amaz­ing sea and the ho­tels are gor­geous. I eat a ke­bab al­most ev­ery day here! The league here is very phys­i­cal – it re­minds me of the Premier League. I ac­cepted the club’s of­fer with­out even ask­ing my wife, and now I can see that I have made the right choice.

What have been your aims with An­talyas­por? There was talk that your for­mer Barcelona team-mate Ronald­inho was go­ing to fol­low you to the club – were you dis­ap­pointed when he didn’t? Why would I be dis­ap­pointed? I can suc­ceed by my­self! I have never re­lied on other peo­ple, so noth­ing can dis­ap­point me. Our pri­mary aim this sea­son has been to avoid rel­e­ga­tion. If the club can do that, the plan is to then start think­ing big­ger.

At Chelsea, Jose Mour­inho – with whom you won the Cham­pi­ons League at In­ter – made a com­ment sug­gest­ing you may have been a lit­tle bit older than your pro­fessed age of 32.. Why do you think he said that? I don’t know. I may be 50 years old but I’m still scor­ing! Jose is my friend and he al­ways will be. We all make mis­takes some­times; I don’t think it is right to fall out with any­body be­cause of th­ese lit­tle things. We had so many good mem­o­ries to­gether, and they are all very pre­cious for me. What he said didn’t hurt me be­cause I know he’s a good per­son – any­way, I may be old but I score more than all the young­sters! Mour­inho is very dif­fer­ent to what you see in the me­dia. He is fun, kind and friendly. What hap­pened to Jose this sea­son was a sur­prise. It was a big loss for Chelsea. What did you think of your year and a half in the Premier League? Why did you leave Ever­ton af­ter only five months at the club? It’s an amaz­ing league, with the best fans in the world. They al­ways cheer, whether you’re win­ning or los­ing; they re­spect the game and the play­ers, and they know so much about foot­ball. My ca­reer wouldn’t have been com­plete if I hadn’t played there, be­cause play­ing in the Premier League is an ex­pe­ri­ence that ev­ery player must have. Why did I leave Ever­ton? Be­cause I couldn’t get into the team! I can’t be­long to any club if I am not wear­ing its shirt.

Tell us about meet­ing the film pro­ducer-turned-club pres­i­dent Massimo Fer­rero (above) dur­ing your spell at Sam­p­do­ria last year. He seems quite a char­ac­ter... I’ve worked with so many pres­i­dents in my ca­reer but if I had to pick one, it would def­i­nitely be Fer­rero. He’s more like a fun team-mate than a club pres­i­dent. I could lis­ten to his sto­ries about the movie busi­ness all day. What do you re­mem­ber about the first time you saw Lionel Messi play, when you were at Barcelona? He was the best foot­baller in the world al­ready, but no one knew. I re­mem­ber speak­ing to Pa­trick Vieira on the phone. There was a game be­tween Barcelona and Ju­ven­tus, and I said to him: “There is a player in our team who will score the best goals ever for the next 25 years – he’ll be the best player in the world.” He asked me who that player was. I told him it was Messi and he replied: “Then I am go­ing to kick him so hard that he’ll never play again!” He was jok­ing, of course. In the game, Messi nut­megged him and he just smiled!

Peo­ple talk about Barça’s cur­rent front three of Lionel Messi, Ney­mar and Luis Suarez maybe be­ing the best ever. Were you, Messi and Ronald­inho just as good? We are talk­ing about dif­fer­ent times, dif­fer­ent mentalities. What we did has taken its place in Barcelona his­tory and it’s very valu­able for us, con­sid­er­ing the club also plays a big part in the his­tory of world foot­ball. We were per­fect in our time and they are per­fect in theirs.

How proud were you to score in two Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal vic­to­ries for Barcelona? Very. Those fi­nals helped my name to shine more brightly. Not ev­ery player gets the chance to play for Barça. It’s the best club in the world.

A glit­ter­ing ca­reer has pro­duced goals and tro­phies ga­lore

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