—I call you from the newspaper EL PAÍS, my...
—And how do I know that you work in EL PAÍS?
Well, it's also true. But you have to be Clemente and have many three-year periods behind him with the press in front of him or next to him to notice that, as he says, it cannot be that someone, by the fact of presenting himself from a newspaper, already has him an hour talking on the phone, "who is still a boring guy at home who has found my number." The coach proposes that someone he knows and the journalist also confirm the identity of the latter. The process is curious: we have to look for a bridge that, as we are shelling names, has no signs of success. "I don't know that one, I don't know that one either." Finally, one name unblocks the interview: José María García. "Man, if Garcia calls me." In the documentary La España de Clemente, by Movistar +, Clemente's suspicion of the press and his close relationship with García —which caused earthquakes with his sports radio rival, José Ramón de la Morena, and PRISA, his business group, publisher of EL PAÍS—, is well explained, and even so, one of the audios rescued by the documentary shows a dialogue between the legendary journalist and his friend the coach: "You have to leave immediately. Tonight better than tomorrow." "Why? Why do you say so?" Because you've failed, Javier." Clemente's years in charge of the Spanish football team deserved a documentary to match.
For the memory, the scene of the protagonists of the decisive match against Eire telling how he placed seven central defenders on the field, "they were even midfielders, and I was still on the bench," says Alkorta. Luis Enrique can't even talk about laughter. Won 0-3. Clemente has just finished a stage as coach of Libya. It has been unemployed for a year. "I'm a coach. The thing is, now they don't hire me. As soon as I get an offer, I'll come back. I enjoy training. Sunday, if I train, is a happy day. But I don't train. I accept that. I've been at this for 43 years."
Question. Are you still just as tense with the press?
Answer. I? Not at all. And I never have been. What I did notice is that they were with me. But I wasn't tense: I had a great time.
Q. It didn't look like it.
A. Do you know what happens? That in this country there is no profession with perks, not even that of politician. But journalists catch them. Are you a politician? Do your best. Are you a journalist? The same. But the journalist does not: the journalist has the right to intimidate and not to be answered. How can a journalist tell you: "I want to interview you", answer that you do not have time, and say: "Well, pay attention to the consequences"? To the consequences of what, idiot. That you put me to give birth? Well, there are journalists like that.
Q. You were going to the melee.
A. I fought as much as I could. If one comes along who starts insulting and mocking, then I fight. If they do an interview with a player of mine full of falsehoods, at a press conference I say: "You wrote this yesterday, this and this: it is false." And then he catches you privately: "Fuck, you call my attention in front of all the journalists." "Oh, and you call my attention in front of all Spain." "Well, you call me and tell me in private." "Well, before you write, you call me too and tell me in private." It's impossible. The journalist wants to do what he wants.
Q. You created a state of opinion.
A. Journalistscreate states of opinion. I dedicate myself to training and you make a series of comments about my work and people take part. That's ok. I accept that. Another thing is this that I am going to explain to you now. We filled Sevilla in the important matches less when we played with very minor rivals. I asked the federation to play those matches in all the fields of Spain so that people from outside Seville could see the national team, and fill the stadium. What did some of the press do? "Clemente doesn't want Seville." Wanting to antagonize Seville. To mount a mess of care, to put Seville against us.
Q. What do you think of what is happening between the Spanish national football team and the federation?
A. It's looking like a mess to me.
Q. De Rubiales said he would like him to spend a few days in jail.
A. He won the elections with very little nobility and with very little cleanliness: he played dirty. He had the ending he deserved.
Q. Which team plays direct football that you learned in England and that you liked?
A. No, that has changed. Until the English League. Since it was Pep [Guardiola] they have changed. But there is something that does not change: the communion between the public and the club. And beware, they are still dynamic, hard, physical teams, more of the shock. But the difference that Pep's team [Manchester City] transmits with respect to the others is very big.
A. The smartest coach in England. By far.
A. Because in 10 years he has changed many times the way he plays. It varies depending on which men you bring. If you haven't achieved a result, bring one, bring another. And that's varying. The concept of the game varies. He is a very smart guy.
Q. Do you have a relationship, do you talk about football?
A. I havea relationship with him especially in summer, when he comes on vacation. He organizes a golf tournament in which I participate. Sometimes we make some comments about football, but we don't talk about football. Let's see: he has a much higher knowledge of football than me. I can't argue with him. He plays the football he likes and I like another type of football. We both respect each other.
Q. What vivid memories do you have of the leagues you won with Athletic Bilbao?
A. For Bilbao it was very important because it had been many years since the league had been won. But people overlooked a little that the team that was champion was very good. A very good team, very made and very prepared since youth: from that team I had seven or eight players in the youth. Three years later they played in Primera. And to put them together with the elite that was already at Athletic, and to be champions two years in a row, is no coincidence. It was an awesome party. A joy. I'm very much from the public, a lot. I like to play with him: chop him, turn him on, that he is not distracted and that he is with his players.
Q. Santiago Segurola says in the documentary that good news about you is that you have a style, your teams know what they play and if you die, you die with the style and with them.
A. My style was to wear the players I carried. The style is made by the players. And I have to think about how to beat the opponent, not just think about us, whoever touches us. I look at the opponent and say: how do we beat these guys? Well, I take the players who know how to do that and go out on the field. And what do they do? What they know. That's it. They say that now football has evolved a lot. The technique, the videos, the scouters, the studies. And for what? Not at all. To adorn the film. A circus. Football is easier than all that.
A. The first thing to do is to know the rival. And what equipment do you have. There was a type of player that I liked: in quality, in delivery, when they talked on TV, what do I know. And I saw what the players I had were capable of. Can they play fast? Can. They can play slow. They can play one touch. They have ability. They have no ability. I say: pussy, because I have a fucking team. What are we playing against? Against the rival. What does the rival do? Because if you, the opponent, let him do what he does well, he can beat you. Does the opponent do these four things very well? You have to prevent him from doing them, and try to do the things that you do well. For that you have to have a loyal team, a team that is happy, a team that has a good atmosphere between them, a team that is respectful of everyone. That's a football team. I made the national team a piece of football team.
Q. What do you think about the stars every time before, or even European promises like Gabri Veiga, go to Arab football?
A. Oh, very good, great. It's professional football, isn't it? What professionals want is to pay for their economic life, so they will go where they pay the most. And if in Arabia they are paid 10 times what they earn in Spain, they do well to leave.
Q. Do those who fight to win Leagues or Champions Leagues, and remain forever in the memory of the fan, do not win enough?
A. I think the difference between earning 5 million or 15 million a year carries more weight than titles and glory. Players want to reach the age of 32 with life solved. They are surrounded by many things and a lot of income capacity. I think it's very good that the players leave for a lot of money. Looks good to me.
Q. He says in the documentary that football is a fun sport because anyone can win.
A. The one who is not better does not always lose. And if you can make the other not better, you do it: you put him in difficulties, you prevent him from playing. There is a lot of talk about Getafe and Bordalás. Hey, Bordalás thinks about the way to win today some guys who are superior: it's this, and he wins. And then the loser says, "It's a shame that they play that football." I heard Quique Setién say that about Leganés, a modest team that Setién wanted to stand up to Barcelona by taking the ball away from him or something like that. Already. Of course, Leganes would like to play like Real Madrid. And how do you do that, is it that you have the same budget to buy similar players? There are guys who go from smart through life and what can not go is smart.
Q. "I'd rather a bad defender than a fool."
A. Those defenders who start dribbling knowing that, if they take it away, it's a goal. And those others who, in the face of difficulties and if they do not have much quality, then herd a kick. Give me bad, don't give me fools. The fool on my team has no place.
Q. He was seriously injured at the age of 20, was already in the elite with Athletic and was a player of great quality: he retired. He was coach of Athletic with 30 and has won two leagues with his usual team, has been in two World Cups with Spain. Would he trade that career of his for not having the injury he suffered when he played football?
A. Without hesitation. What I like most about football is playing. To anyone, come on.
Q. And the least?
A. That it has changed so much: everything is lies, everything is trickery, very dubious arbitration matters. Now comes the Rubiales, now comes the Thebes... Pull back 40 years. People went to the field, supported the team, the managers were humble. Those from Regional passed the roller to the field, set up bars, served at the bar, made raffles. Now there is an impressive amount of sausages and trapicheos . When money intervenes so much, things rot. Respect, authority, treatment of the public. Do you think that a Primera team can get off the bus with 100 children waiting for them and they all come down with their helmets and do not greet any children? Fuck with the golden lords.
You can follow EL PAÍS TELEVISIÓN on Twitter or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits
I'm already a subscriber