designated by Cesar Montes as your referent the day of his presentation as a new player of the RCD Espanyol, Hector Moreno (Culiacán Rosales, 01/17/1988) attends MD less than 48 hours before the debut of striped in the Clausura 2023 Tournament of the Liga MX. The former parakeet believes “it will be very difficult to find a central defender to replace him” in Monterey and he has no doubts about the adaptation of his friend and teammate to European football. “I’m sure they’re going to fall in love with him soon,” she says.
Penultimate training session before debut, how do you feel?
“I’m fine. Fortunately after the World Cup we had a few days off, but it served to disconnect, to enjoy a bit with the family. We’ve had practically three weeks of pre-season… It’s a bit of a strange start given how this new World Cup format took place in November, but it’s okay. With great enthusiasm to start the championship again and hoping to achieve the objectives”.
How do you see the team facing the duel against Chivas?
“Okay, excited. With the fortune to start at home. If I remember correctly, the team was about 8-9 months old until the last game that was played at home without losing. And it was a goal at the last minute when the tie was practically decided. Making ourselves strong at home will be essential and starting with a good feeling is super important. We know that Chivas has sought to strengthen itself, Fernando Hierro arrived, who is gradually entering Mexican soccer and has brought 2-3 important additions. It will be a nice game to watch”.
Which teams do you see as favorites to win the title?
“There are several contenders. I would put Pachuca, who has reached two consecutive finals, has a great coach plus Almada, who has done quite well… In the end they are the last champions. There is always America, there is Tigres, which also has an excellent squad. Liga MX is very competitive. Each match supposes a different complexity: call it height, call it humidity…. Every 15 days you play in a totally different environment in terms of weather conditions. That makes it very complicated. Those three teams that I have given you, and surely some more that will pass me by now are the ones that are in contention for the title. Then it’s football and any team can give the bell. Especially in a format like this, it doesn’t matter what you do during the 17 days, the most important thing is the league phase”.
They have lost several important players. Among them, Cesar Montes.
“Important people have also joined, who come with great enthusiasm and a great desire to add. At the moment a replacement for César has not arrived, and I think it will be very difficult to find a central defender to replace him. He is one of the best Mexican center backs. Fortunately, after a good World Cup, he has had the opportunity to fulfill his dream of going to Europe and I am very happy for him. It is difficult for us as a team, and selfishly for me, because the couple we were forming both at the club and with the national team… I loved playing with him, but I am very happy for him because he is fulfilling one of his dreams. And in a team like Espanyol, which I appreciate so much”.
“Montes of the best Mexican central defenders. Fortunately he has had the opportunity to fulfill his dream of going to Europe and I am very happy for him”
In his presentation as a parrot, he pointed to you as his reference. A pride, I suppose…
“Completely. It is a source of pride, it is flattering that on a day as important to him as his presentation to a European team, he has time to dedicate a few words to me. I appreciate it very much. He had told me personally, but that he externalizes it is also very commendable. I wish him the best, I hope he enjoys his life there in Barcelona, with the parakeets, and that the parakeet fans also enjoy his football a lot because he is an excellent player who they have taken away”.
How would you define him as a player?
“He has a very good release of the ball, very good field vision to find passes between the lines when possible and when the defenses are very tight. He also has a great long pass of 50-60 meters that breaks many schemes. Defensively he is someone very strong. He is very tall, so from above he hardly loses a duel. And despite his height, you may think that he is slow, but not at all. He is fast, he is someone who solves many things with his stride. That allows him to feel comfortable with a forward defense or trying to press high”.
“Defensively, Montes is very strong. He hardly loses a duel from above. And despite his height, he is fast, he is someone who solves many things with his stride”
And on a personal level? How is her relationship with him?
“Much closer in recent months. When I arrived in Monterrey, we had a very good relationship before, we were always close. He asked me things within the experience that I could have, the experiences… I could also help him so that he did not make the same mistakes that I have made. But since he came to play for Rayados, he has gotten closer and closer. Our couples also get along quite well, we have daughters of the same age, so it was something very natural that happened. I will miss him on the pitch, but also off. He is a very calm boy, I am sure he will adapt very well to life in Europe, life in Barcelona and surely it will not take too long for him to demonstrate his great football”.
Any advice that you have given for this adaptation to European football?
“I don’t feel like someone to give advice. I simply shared what I went through, what I lived through… And if I had to tell him something, it would surely be that he enjoys it and that he is happy both on and off the pitch. May you live these beautiful experiences that life gives you. Nothing better than coming to a club as familiar, as good, as historic as Espanyol”.
Who do you think will be the next Mexican to make the leap to Europe?
“Alexis Vega (Guadalajara) would do very well. He is an excellent player. What he would improve, what he would grow…. He would give that turn that he lacks to be super important and transcendent. He already is, but he still lacks that little step. Now that a generational change is coming in the Mexican team, of the people who will stay, who must be the most important and who, as they say: throw the team on their shoulders. There is also Luis Chávez (Pachuca), who had a very good World Cup. Unfortunately he broke out late, but age is never an impediment for him to reach Europe. For me they would be the two candidates, the two players that I would like to have a future in Europe because of the importance that he could also have in the national team for the next World Cup”.
What memory did you have of Espanyol?
“A wonderful memory. It was the best stage of my life, both professional and personal. It was where I played the most games, where despite the change of coaches I always had their confidence. The injuries respected me a lot, I missed very few games due to injuries other than the one I had in the World Cup. Personally, I met who is now my wife. I felt very loved, very supported by the fans and by the club. It was a wonderful experience”
A moment with which you stay as a parakeet?
“Each season was a roller coaster, but the most beautiful thing we had to fight for was that Cup semifinal against Athletic Club. We played a great game in San Mamés, there we missed opportunities to be able to go ahead and thus be able to control the result at home. We didn’t do it and Athletic beat us. It was a hard blow, but a wonderful experience. The joy of the fans, how plugged in I was with the team at that moment…”
If he had to keep one of the technicians he had here…
“I also had the pleasure of having Javier –Aguirre- in the national team and in Rayados. I have lived with him much more apart from Espanyol. Sergio touched me very little, so I’ll end by saying Pochettino. He was the one who trusted me, the one who takes me along with Ramón Planes and gives me the opportunity to reach such a competitive league. He demanded a lot from me and he made me improve a lot. If it has something, it is that it squeezes you, it demands the maximum from you and that makes your competitive level rise to its maximum. That helped me a lot to later have a great career. He taught me the basics of what it is to be a high-performance footballer. I arrived as a player who went, trained and then ended his life as a footballer. That’s when I understood that a professional soccer player has to be one 24 hours a day. Food, recovery, rest… Mauricio was very important to me in all these kinds of things”
One last message for espanyolism.
“I thank you for the four years I was here. And after that the people who were still there, commenting on a photo, something about me. Take great care of César, I’m sure you’ll soon fall in love with him because he’s an excellent player and a better person, super humble, hard-working, generous… I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as he did”.