Born in nearby Moana, star forward Iago Aspas has spent the bulk of his career with Celta Vigo; the 29-year-old talks to UEFA.com about what might be his best season yet.
On his deep roots at Celta …
I joined the club when I was eight. In fact, I lied about my age to join. When I first arrived, they were taking on children born in 1986, but I was born in 1987 so I cried a lot; I thought they weren’t going to let me train. But my uncle told me to give my exact date of birth except for the year, so I did, and it worked.
That was a huge thing for me, as it would have been for any boy from Moana – my home town of 20,000 people – who dreams of making it with Celta. I used to be a ball boy too. That was a big time for Celta back then, when the club was playing in Europe, with great players like Aleksandr Mostovoi, Valeri Karpin and Gustavo López.
On time away with Liverpool and Sevilla …
I think it made me a better player, although I didn’t play as much as I’d hoped, considering I was a regular here. Training with great players like Luis Suárez, Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho was very useful. At the time, I thought leaving was the best thing for me and Celta, because of the transfer fee they got.
I watched every Celta match when I was in England and Seville, always wishing the club well, so I really wanted to come back; it was good when it happened. Ever since my debut in 2009, people have put me on a pedestal, so to speak. They’ve always got behind me and that’s made it easier for me to play, too. This might be one of the best periods in my career, as an individual and as a team member. I feel valued, I feel at home, I feel good on the pitch.
On coming up against Genk …
They’re a similar team to us – attack-minded. They qualified from the group stage and they’ve come through two knockout ties, like us, so that says something about them. We have to keep our feet on the ground, but we want to get as far as possible. We know we have a very difficult opponent in front of us, but we have hopes of going down in the history of our club.
We’re not thinking about the possibility of getting to our first European semi-final or the final; we’re just focused on getting through this round, playing well at home and trying to kill off the tie, so we can reach the next round.