Photo credits: AS
Mario González is a 26-year-old Spanish player who has represented clubs such as Villareal CF, SC Braga, CD Tondela, and Clermont throughout his professional career.
In this exclusive interview with Soccer HUB, the current CD Tenerife striker explores his first steps in football, his experiences in dissimilar competitive contexts, and reveals his short-term career plans.
Passion for football
“It started with my father. He was always a big fan of football and the one who instilled in me those values. I think it is for him that I am here now, fighting for the best”.
“I do not think I have ever had a big idol. I liked Zinedine Zidane and Raúl González a lot when I was little, but they were not idols. Then, when I grew up, Fernando Torres was a great reference for me because his style of play was very similar to mine”.
Youth teams in Spain
“I have played for Atlético Madrid before moving to Villareal CF and then went through all the stages that Villareal CF’s youth teams have until I reached the first team. Logically, competition is higher in these teams, but I had my moment. Unfortunately, I had an injury that made me slow down a bit and not have the consistency I wanted. I was delighted to have enjoyed these wonderful moments, and I am very grateful to Villareal CF for everything they have done for me”.
Loans to Clermont and CD Tondela
“Firstly, I left for France as I did not have many more options. It went well for me, but it was the COVID-19 year, so they did not finish the league. That hindered me a little in immediately finding a team in the summer transfer window, and I still had a contract with Villareal CF. After talking to Unai Emery, he said he did not count on me. I had several proposals on the table, and I accepted the one from Tondela. At first, I was not very convinced, but after talking to my family and agents, we thought it was a good option. One of the factors that caught my attention was the league’s visibility. Liga Portugal is a very popular league worldwide. It was one of the key aspects for which I preferred to go to the first division of Portugal than to the second in Spain”.
Competitive differences in the French, Spanish and Portuguese leagues
“In Spain, football is much more technical and tactical. I have found very high physical and technical levels in France. However, teams were not as organized as in Spain tactically. Portugal is a mix of both”.
Transfer to SC Braga
“I had several offers, but the one that pleased me the most was from SC Braga. I spent six months there, and I still have a contract. If I do not achieve the promotion to LaLiga with CD Tenerife, I have to come back to Portugal. I was happy and felt good at the club, but I received a great offer from CD Tenerife that was good for all parties. I am grateful for the way SC Braga treated me”.
Playing in the UEFA Europa League with SC Braga
“I think it was a fantastic year in UEFA Europa League. It is true that maybe, in the group stage, we had more doubts, but we did well in the knock-out stage, and the level of play was very high. I am very happy for them because I know how they work. It is a young team. Many players still have to mature, but they have already been at a very high level this year. SC Braga’s future is in safe hands”.
Experience in Tenerife
“Since I arrived, I felt very comfortable. It is a historic club in Spain that has unfortunately not been in the elite of Spanish football for many years. This year we have a golden opportunity. We are in the play-off spots to achieve the promotion to LaLiga. Luis Ramis is a great coach who has lived what it is like to be a player at the highest level. As a result of his experience, the team is at the top of the table”.
Villareal CF’s 2021-2022 UEFA Champions League campaign
“I belonged to Villareal for nine years. It is one of my clubs. I feel pride and happiness for them. Many of those playing are friends of mine who played with me. Seeing them succeed and face the most important teams in Europe makes me extremely proud to have represented the club for so many years”.
CD Tondela in the Portuguese Cup finals
“CD Tondela had an incredible performance. They had, perhaps, a little luck with the clubs they faced, but they defeated them and achieved a historic final. We all know it is difficult [for them to win], but the possibility is there. We will see if they are capable of accomplishing it”.
Short-term career plans
“My goal is to do my best to be promoted to LaLiga with CD Tenerife. It is an opportunity to do something beautiful. Experiencing the promotion from the second division to the first is something incredible. It will be difficult. There are strong teams, and we will see what happens next”.
The importance of education
“I have not finished the physical coach course yet. For me, education is very important. I have always tried to learn and cultivate myself, because, unfortunately, football ends at 35 or 40 and there is a lot of life ahead. Many can continue to be linked to football, either as a coach or director, but not everyone has that possibility. Therefore, it is crucial to have a plan b. I think it is necessary and I am doing things at my own pace. I do not have as much time as I would like, but within the time I have, I try to make the most of it”.