With bags of experience and an extensive career already under his belt, Esteban Suárez, Almería's 38-year-old goalkeeper, is enjoying one of the best moments of his footballing life.
This Sunday he will travel to Cataluña to take on Barcelona having already played in every Liga BBVA match (2,250 minutes) this season and with the mentality that "the games are there to be played. We will try to get something in Barcelona knowing that our chances will be slim. But we have to make the most of the chances we get", he explains in an interview with LFP.es. Even so, he stresses the importance of travelling to the Camp Nou every year: "It means we are in the top division and there are very few teams in Spain that can say the same, only 20", the Asturian keeper states.
Despite being the most senior player in the Liga BBVA, his performances this season have been spectacular. He has already made 100 saves since the start of the league campaign, positioning himself among the best goalkeepers in the division, something he considers very important. "A footballer should be judged on his performances, not his age", he declares. On top of that he feels "very privileged to be able to play in the Liga BBVA at my age".
Esteban has not grown tired of his achievements over the first 25 matchdays, the latest of which has seen him break the Andalusian club's record for consecutive clean sheets in the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneo (five). Just another accolade to add to his BBVA Award for Best Liga Adelante Goalkeeper during the 2012/13 season, which he received last December alongside the other prize winners. Upon receiving the award he said he felt: "Proud and very grateful to everyone who voted for me as the best keeper in the Liga Adelante. I'm very happy and am still pinching myself about the prize and being promoted".
His experience is one of the key factors for him being able to remain competing in the topflight, although he is willing to reveal some of the tricks he uses to prolong his career to LFP.es: "One of the secrets is to turn your profession into a hobby, and enjoy what you’re doing every day. I treat every day as if it were the first". He also talks about the wealth of top quality Spanish keepers in the first division: "Compared to eight or ten years ago when there was an invasion of foreign keepers, now clubs are putting their faith in Spaniards because they can see that the performances have been good", the Asturian points out.
Almería currently sits sixteenth in the Liga BBVA thanks in big part to Esteban's performances between the sticks and the work of the coach, Francisco Rodríguez. According to the goalkeeper: "Our goal is to have three teams below us. For us, not going down is almost like winning a title". In relation to the manager and the odd situation whereby the dressing room is shared by the oldest player and the youngest coach in the league, Suárez sincerely states: "I believe in hierarchies. It is a strange circumstance but he is my boss and I afford him all the respect he deserves as the gaffer".
Finally, Esteban talked about the recent passing of Luis Aragonés, a man he doesn't want to forget: "He was the best coach I've ever had. The most abiding memory I have of him is that he trained me, having had the chance to be there and see first hand all of the virtues that Luis had without having to hear it from others", the Almería keeper concludes.