Having welcomed what he calls "the chance of a life time" at Real Valladolid CF with open arms, goalkeeper Diego Mariño has been one of the outstanding players so far in the Liga BBVA between the sticks in the Estadio José Zorrilla.
His youth, reflexes and calm under pressure have made him one of the most promising keepers in Spain. However, the 23-year-old shot-stopper's thoughts are firmly in the here and now. "Right now I want to enjoy the moment. Everything is going really well for me and I am really enjoying my first year in the Liga BBVA", he said.
"The truth is that I was not expecting to progress so quickly. My idea was to come here and win a place in the team and fight for the number-one shirt, so I have given it everything ever since I arrived. Working and training hard gave me my prize", explained Mariño when asked about his presence in Juan Ignacio Martínez's team. The Spanish youth international has been a key player for the blanquivioletas this season.
"You have to be completely focused because of the players and the quality of the Liga BBVA. Any slip up leads to a goal"
For Mariño, his first three months in the Liga BBVA have meant squaring up against players of the quality of Real Madrid CF's Gareth Bale and FC Barcelona's Neymar, and memories of the Brazilian still linger. "The one who gave us the most difficulty was Neymar in the first match against Barça, he was the most difficult to mark", said the keeper of his match against the azulgranas.
A product of the Villarreal CF youth academy, the goalkeeper from Vigo's overall impression of his first months in the Liga BBVA is positive and he said that his team will give their all in what is left of the competition, although he warned that the fight to stay up is going to be tighter than ever. "This year is going to be very close", he answered calmly when asked about the challenge of staying in the division.
Despite his youth, Mariño seems to be a player who knew what to expect when he arrived at the José Zorrilla. "I was expecting one of the best leagues in the world. High quality players and opponents who you cannot give an inch to, because they will make a goal or a perfect cross out of nothing", he said.
But the player has also learnt some very important lessons during his time in the competition. "You have to concentrate for 90 minutes of the game. You have to be completely focused because of the players and the quality of the Liga BBVA. Any slip up leads to a goal".
Finally, Mariño also stated that regular participation is an essential part of any sportsman's diet and that next year he hopes for "good health, to be injury-free and for things to keep going as well for me as they have so far".