'The Arguineguín magician' is unstoppable. At 38 years of age he continues to fight it out in the Liga Adelante with the club he started his professional career with, UD Las Palmas. This season, Juan Carlos Valerón is the talisman for the Canary Island outfit as it tries to achieve its ambitious objective. "To finish among the top six at the end of the season would be the cherry on top" Valerón tells Lfp.es.
LFP.es: - How has it been returning to play for your hometown club, Las Palmas, after so many years away?
Juan Carlos Valerón: This is a special moment in my life and career because being able to return to my hometown after such a long time away to wind down my playing days, is the stuff of dreams for any player.
LFP.es: - Will this be Valerón’s last season?
Juan Carlos Valerón: I don’t know. Over the last few seasons the thought that ‘this could be the last’ has crept into my mind…but then I feel strong, play well, and people keep asking me to stay on. We’ll see at the end of the season, but for the moment I’m focused on giving my best to help UD Las Palmas.
LFP.es: - Would getting promotion to the Liga BBVA be the perfect way to bow out?
Juan Carlos Valerón: Fingers crossed. That’s our dream. We are fighting to finish among the top six teams at the end of the season, and if we managed to get promotion it will be the cherry on the cake not just for me, but for Las Palmas as well. The club has had some financial problems over the last few years and the fans really want to see the team return to the topflight.
LFP.es: - The Liga Adelante seems to be very evenly matched and competitive. How would you assess the competition?
Juan Carlos Valerón: The quality on display in the Liga Adelante has been very high over the last few years. Everyone knows that the top four or five teams could compete with the bottom ten sides in the Liga BBVA. That shows you how even it is. Any team can beat any team and that makes it a great league.
LFP.es: - The numerical evidence shows that it is the most competitive league in Europe.
Juan Carlos Valerón: It is a very long league, where a team can enjoy a good run and climb the table quickly, but can also see the opposite happen. That forces you to be fully focused all the time because at any moment you can drop down the league. No one knows how the league will finish until the final third of the season.
If we managed to get promotion it will be the cherry on the cake not just for me, but for Las Palmas as well
LFP.es: - You are one of the finest players to come out of the Canarian youth system. How do you see the current crop of youngsters trying to make their mark?
Juan Carlos Valerón: UD Las Palmas has always had a strong culture of youth development. More than ever the club has had to depend more and more on the youth players because of all the financial problems over the past few years, and that has had its benefits. There are a lot of talented players so fingers crossed we can clinch promotion in order to give them all their chance in the topflight of professional football.
LFP.es: - Coincidentally you faced Deportivo, one of your beloved former clubs, for the first match of the season. What was that experience like?
Juan Carlos Valerón: It was really special. I spent the majority of my professional and personal life in Coruña. It all went so quickly: the decision to leave, to sign for UD Las Palmas, the first match of the season… I didn’t have time to process how I felt. But it was fantastic and very special.
LFP.es:- How would you like 2014 to go?
Juan Carlos Valerón: If you ask anyone that question, they will tell you they want sporting success. But there are a lot of years, and although we all want success, there are things that are out of your hands. The most important thing is to feel good and be at peace with yourself, be honest and give your best at all times. After that there are things that go your way and others that don’t, but at the very least you have to try to do your best, that way you can be satisfied for having done your best.