Yacob enjoys journey on and off pitch
The Post’s Forest writer talks to Argentine star Claudio Yacob
IT is hard to envisage the thought of Claudio Yacob, huddled in a bus shelter, waiting patiently to catch a ride into the city centre.
But do keep an eye out for the Nottingham Forest man, because you just might be in for a surprise.
It is clear that, for the midfielder, sometimes it is the small things that can bring joy to life in England. Including, apparently, the simple pleasure of being able to use public transport, should he want to.
Whether he is a back seat of the top deck or a downstairs near the doors kind of guy, we will probably never know. But the Argentinian midfielder says he is enjoying life here and, specifically, with Nottingham Forest.
And one of the things that makes him happy is the sense of organisation and structure, that he feels life in the East Midlands has to offer.
“I enjoy it here. My son and my family like it here. When I came here, to this country, it was not about football alone, it was about my life,” said Yacob. “It was about getting to know a new place; about having a new experience and that is what we are doing as a family. We enjoy it.
“We really like this country. I like that everything works! In South America it is not always like this.
“When you want to take the bus somewhere and the bus is meant to come at 10am, in England the bus comes at 10am. In South America, you would have to get to the bus stop at 9.30am and hope that it comes at some point... hopefully before 11.30am, if you are lucky.
“We really enjoy life as a family here. But it is also true that, when we win, life is much better. You enjoy the weekend much more.”
Yacob was born in Carcarana, a small city of around 22,000 people in the province of Santa Fe. With Argentina being predominantly a catholic country, Christmas has always been a big deal in that part of South America.
That has not changed for the former West Brom player, even if there are distinct differences to the festive season in England.
And he says it is an important time of year - on and off the pitch, as Forest head into one of the busiest periods of the season.
“It is something we celebrate a lot. It is time that you spend with family,” said Yacob. “The weather is the big difference. In South America it is very hot at this time of year.
“Imagine people eating outside in the garden, or swimming in the pool, while having a glass of champagne, perhaps... so it is a little bit different to here!
“It is a very important month for everyone in this country. You play six or seven games, you play a lot of games in December and January.
“Many teams will not have a good month and can find themselves in trouble in the table.
“If you have a good month, you will be in a very good position in the table. So it is a very important month for us.”
Yacob’s wish list is an obvious one, as he looks ahead to 2019 and what it might bring. The midfielder has clearly stated his ambitions for the team more than once.
He wants to win promotion with Forest; to secure another chance to play in the top flight.
And Yacob has a clear idea of how the club can give themselves the best chance of making that happen.
“In my opinion, at Nottingham Forest, it is really clear that this is a club that really wants to go up. We really wish for that,” he said.
“To have a chance to go up, you have to take things game by game. This is how we have to view things. We are going game by game and this is how we are thinking now, when we look at Saturday and what will be a tough game for us.
“When you start to see the table – and it is good to see Forest in the top six – sometimes it can be a trap; a mistake.
“We have to take things one game at a time and there is a long way to go. There are still more than 25 games left to play and things can change quickly.
“In two games we could see things change a lot.
“I came to the club a little bit later, in September. But I can see that now we are much better as a team. I can feel that. Every week I can see that, as a team, we are feeling strong.
“I think it will be difficult for opponents to beat us. To get promotion or to get good results in this division, you have to do well as a team.
“It is not about a few players, it is about how well you can do as a team. We are working on that all the time and the manager is very clear that this is what he wants.”
It is Yacob’s first season playing Championship football, following six years in the top flight with West Brom.
But he is quickly learning the nuances of one of the most competitive divisions on the planet - and knows that Karanka’s side will be in for another tough test this weekend.
“Preston are a good team; they are a competitive team. They have good players, particularly in the middle. They have very good midfielders,” said Yacob.
“We will have to be ready if we want to win this game. I do not know their position in the table or how they have done in recent years - but I am sure they will finish in a good position in the table.
“They play with intensity and they have a few quality players.
“When the opposition has quality midfielders and forwards, as they have, it can be difficult. We will have
to work very hard and be very smart to beat them.
“I am not sure if they will come to win or to take a point - perhaps a draw would be good for them.
“But we really want the three points and we will do all we can to get them.”
Yacob speaks eight languages and, having spent so long in England, has no problem communicating. He also apparently has no problem listening, as he repeats one of Aitor Karanka’s favoured mantras, about taking things one game at a time.
“In two or three games, everything could change. But we cannot think about Chelsea or about what happens in February or March,” said Yacob.
“If we get three points, everything will be better. But, if we lose, it will feel very difficult.
“We are really just thinking about Saturday. That is the truth. To go to Chelsea to play in the cup will be good. But there are a few more games to come before then.
“For me, getting three points against Bristol is exactly the same as getting three points against Middlesbrough.
“In the end, we are hungry for three points in every game. We play Preston this weekend and we want to get three points, because they could be very important points.”
Whatever mode of transport he takes, Yacob hopes that his journey will end with Nottingham Forest, back in the Premier League.
Claudio Yacob battles with Yannick Bolasie of Aston Villa during the thrilling 5-5 draw
Yacob up against Liverpool’s Adam Lallana during his Premier League days with West
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