Ramon Soria Interview: From Villarreal to Canada

Ramon Soria
Photo courtesy of FC Edmonton.

INTERVIEW – This past September 7, 2019, Last Word on Soccer spoke with Ramon Soria of FC Edmonton.

Ramon Soria: From Villarreal to Canada

1. Your formation was at Villarreal, A club relatively known worldwide speaking. Did you play with any players that made it far or even a first team of a La Liga club?

“Yeah with lots, the truth is that in Villarreal I developed with great players. Now some of them are in the first team, Mario Gaspar and Bruno Soriano – two players in which I played with. Right now they’re the captains of the first team.

I had the luck of training with the first team so I had the chance of practicing with the likes of [Diego] Forlan, [Juan] Riquelme, I don’t know just a crazy amount of players that I would have never imagined that I could have had the chance to be alongside with. Back then it seemed normal, now with time it’s when you see the magnitude of that and the fortune that I had to be have my formation at a club like Villarreal.”

2. What your time like in RSD Mallorca, the most well known club in the island and even within your own country?

“Well Mallorca, as well as as Villarreal; these are teams that are used to be being in the first division. Mallorca went five years without being at the top which was a tough moment [for them]. But it’s come back strong and it’s a great club. It’s a side that had an era with Samuel Eto’ and they started by winning the Copa Del Rey title. In the moment that I was there, the team qualified to Europa League; because of economic problems they couldn’t participate.

But anyhow I shared locker room with players like: Borja Valero, Tomas Espina who’s also in first division and Seville Enrique while in the reserve side who’s scoring a lot of goals in Éibar, Aleix Vidal, Simeón Navarro etc – a bunch of players with incredible talent. I feel super fortunate again with names of that caliber.”

3. Being from Alicante in Valencia, do you speak any other language besides Spanish or even dialects?

“English and French, I’m trilingual. I studied in a French school so I speak it perfectly and English I also speak it fluently.”

4. You played in Slovenia. A interesting part of the world that is the Balkans. Tell me how that’s experience was and if you liked the culture?

“Well in the level of Football-wise, i would say it was an excellent experience. I was with [NK] Celje who historically are a mid table club, one year they participated in Europa league but not always. But anyhow we were until the last fixture fighting for the title with Maribor and that was for champions league [Qualifying].

The roster that ended up being winners that year in the league took part in group stage of the champions league. So if you see the magnitude against a team that we were competing against in the league. Then we played in Europa league qualifying, they eliminated us quite early but it was an experience invaluable.

In terms of the football, I have no complaints. For the culture, well like all countries – there’s better things, there’s worst things. The people of Slovenia are super nice but anyhow I like to get to know all types of cultures but I love my mine the Spanish one.”

5. You’re now 30-years-old. Looking back on your career looking at everything, 13 years ago; Did you ever imagine you would be in this moment?

“No of course not [laughing] – I would have never imagined that when I was 30 years old I would be in Canada. But anyways I feel super fortunate because I’ve made a career out of soccer, it’s allowed me to fly to many different sites, it’s allowed me to make my passion my profession. I’ve been able to enrich myself than if I were to have stayed my whole life in Spain.

Getting to know how sports is in other countries. But like I said before, I would have never imagined here but that’s how life happens. Some teammates of mine have had to retire and even never played professionally and others the total opposite, made it at the very top; World cups, euro cups, etc. I haven’t had that luck but I can’t regret anything.”

6. Any country that’s still pending for you that you’d like to play in?

“A country that id like to play in? Good question. The truth is that I’m very well in Canada and the last time that I left Spain I had the intention to go to a country like Canada that could add something really culturally speaking.

So no there’s isn’t a country in special that I have in mind. I’m happy here [in Canada] and I’d like to stay on the team and for the league to grow. That the club can grow and be part of this movement that’s happening from here until the [FIFA] World Cup 2026.”

7. Spain is one of the top five best leagues in the world. Considering just how competitive this pyramids are, for people who don’t know; exactly what’s the level in the third and forth division of Spain in which you played in?

“Well I would consider Spain not top five, I would say it’s the best league in the world along side the English league. You can see it through the purchasing power of the clubs, and the achievements of the Spanish sides in Europe.

At the end, the 2°B which is the 3rd tier is equivalent of many first divisions of Europe. Sincerely for me comparable like countries in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, the proof is there. The majority of the players in 2°B when they decide to leave Spain the destination of them is the first divisions of Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Norway, Sweden, as well as a lot of others and then the second division of Spain perfectly could be in the top Ten of leagues.

Now the purchasing power has dropped and that’s why a lot of Spanish players
are leaving. But that’s what you see – they’re being successful and triumphing in leagues all over the world and that’s good. For the Spanish player to form abroad and for other leagues to receive the organization and talent of Spanish, French players etc. Argentinians and Brazilians have done it their whole lives. I really believe that’s good for football.”

8. Off camera you were telling me that you’re a sports lawyer. How difficult was to be study and also be a professional athlete at the same time?

“Well I’m not gonna lie, it’s difficult because football takes a lot of time and that’s not only practices and games. It takes time mentally, thinking about the matches, taking care of your body, but we also have free time as well. So it’s a little bit more challenging organizing your time well.

Obviously in the trips i had to study when a lot of the times I didn’t have the appetite for it. Specially I took advantage of the trips going back. Obviously if you’ve won you’re full of energy euphorically and sometimes you celebrate the win with teammates without studying, and if you’ve lost you don’t have the mind to study.

So it has been difficult but more so a thing of organizing to have things clear. I knew that it could happen – you’re not gonna live of your football career all your life obviously and if you’re not on top teams winning millions then you have to do something when you’ve retired.”

9. After you’re career, what is it that you’d like to do?

“Well I’m not really sure yet but I’m sure it will be related to soccer, at the end of the day I have a formation to that. My master in sports law, I’ve done also coaching licenses – the UEFA license, so around there it will be. Not sure if it will be in a coaching staff at a club or more administrative.”

10. I’m sure you have multiple options but could Canada be one of them?

“Yeah for sure, Canada is a beautiful country. I’ve always said it – for me I love my country of Spain. So to leave my country it has to be somewhere well and I believe Canada is. Besides the cold there is a lot of good things, the people are amazing.”

11. It’s not like Puerto Rico! (Being warm)

“No Puerto Rico too, that’s another country that I really love. If you asked me what Teo countries I loved more it would be Puerto Rico and Canada. I think they’re very different, but at the same it’s countries where the people transmits to me a lot and with their football it has to grow a lot.

The proof is that – the professional league here and in Puerto Rico they’re trying to create one. To be a part of that is nice. I can help a lot in both countries, for experience and above all impulse the soccer.”

12. Do you like to play more in artificial field or natural grass?

“Natural grass, there’s no doubt about that. Good soccer is always played in natural grass. The only good thing about artificial field is that it’s becoming more like natural grass but that’s something that still needs to improve in soccer but it’s alright.”

13. Jeff [Paulus] said that he saw you in the NASL, exactly what game did you think that was? When he contacted you What was your initial reaction?

“The NASL was a little bit like the CPL where it was eight teams the last year so we ended up playing 4-5 times against each team, my guess is Jeff saw me in one of those games against Edmonton but obviously you have control over all the players in all leagues and that’s what’s happening in the CPL.

We know each other quite well, it’s easy to follow the league having seen seven-eight games of each side. Having playing 5-6 times versus each time so in the end they control the players. See which players are interesting to each team and Jeff had a very clear idea of how he wanted to play soccer. How he wanted to form the team, and the truth is when he called me, we came to terms quickly because in that we are similar.

We understand football very similar. We have a similar idea of what is CPL, what we wanted for FC Edmonton. So on that end it was easy to come to a deal, for now it’s gone well. Obviously there’s margin improvement but the team right now is in 3rd [place]. It’s learned from it’s mistakes, it has ascending lines and we still have options to become champions even if it’s difficult.”

14. The future Of Canadian Soccer, how do you see it? I don’t know how much you know about the national team, there’s a good group of players. Not sure if you’ve known some of them. In CONCACAF where would you rate the national team?

“I know a little bit about the national team and the overall level of CONCACAF because I follow a lot of soccer. The Liga MX, The MLS – I see a lot of soccer of national teams and now that i’m here I have the opportunity to see a lot of soccer of CONCACAF.

I think Canadian soccer has a good future, it’s still forming. I like how they did in the last gold cup, it’s unfortunate the elimination because I think The first half against Haiti was very good.”

15. Did the team see that game together?

“No we didn’t see it together, I saw it on my own. Everyone watched it by themselves, my guess is the majority of my teammates saw it. But anyhow I saw all of Canada‘s games are the gold cup. Today I’m going to see the game [vs Cuba].

But I really think they have possibilities [Canada] – The first objective has to be to get into the hexagonal. And then to compete, The four spots. Now Mexico, U.S. are over Canada; Costa Rica has a good national team but they can compete. The level right now is a lot more comparable to Costa Rica then perhaps you would think 4-6 years ago.”

15. Even Panama who just went to the World Cup in 2018?

“Yeah even panama, they did very well in the past qualifying process to the World Cup. They took the United States out which is A major powerhouse. But yeah it’s something to follow if Panama is going to the World Cup Why can’t Canada?

And a lot of good young players are coming through and the CPL Is gonna help a lot too. The MLS is already helping, there still that next step [to be taken] but I’m very sure that after 2026 and I’m sure the players will be ready.

With a little more organization at the level of grassroots level, so there’s leagues all year round. Just like winter such as summer to not lose the competitively. So things can be more clear – that I Think will be achieved with with CPL. That from 2026 they’ll be at all the world cups from then on I hope.”

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