This week its my pleasure to interview Corey Fiske, founder of Real Madrid Offside blog. The Real Madrid Offside blog team now work at the Real Madrid Football Blog, which is a must read.
Tanuj: First up, tell us about you.
Corey: My name is Corey and I am from New York originally, I now live in Connecticut. I just finished graduate school and work for Pepsi.
T: Since when have you been a Real Madrid fan? (if you happen to remember)
C: I have probably given a different date in several interview because my memory is fuzzy, but I would say the Champions League final of 2000 was when I became a Real Madrid fan. I was 13 or so at the time and had just started playing club soccer, and when I saw this match on a tape a friend’s father had purchased it amazed me. It probably was a month or two after the game took place that I even got to see it, such was the level of coverage in the US back then. I vaguely remember the World Cup in 94 as my first ever experience watching soccer, but the Champions League final against Valencia was the day I became a fan of the game and of Real. The Raul and McManaman goals amazed me at how difficult they were but how effortlessly they were excuted, and the general atmosphere was amazing also.
After that the only way I could follow the team was through the FIFA soccer games for Playstation for awhile, and then in 2002 the Champions League final was on television and I was able to watch it. Blew me away. I practiced the Zidane volley in my yard for years after that. As I got older, played more and the internet began to become more readily available I was able to check the scores every weekend, then I got involved in message boards for Spanish football and eventually by the time I was in college I was able to stream games to my laptop. Shortly there after I started the Offside blog.
T: What is your favourite part of Real Madrid football club?
C: The tradition is impressive of course, with the all white jerseys and the pedigree of former players, coaches and triumphs. What I like the most though is how the club is always striving to be the best. I like to think I do too, so I identify with this ideal. Every year the club is expected to win the Champions League, the League etc. and that great sense of expectation usually creates great results. I have always liked that about the club, although the fans get a little carried away some times.
T: Which has been your all time favourite Real Madrid player?
C: I grew up with Raul, Guti, Zidane, Casillas, Hierro and Figo. Ronaldo was a great player but I never viewed him as one of Real’s best, while other Galatico’s like Beckham I appreciate, but they were merely one of many in a great line of players. Hierro was incredible, Guti a misunderstood genius and Zidane a fully functioning genius. But Raul has and always will be my favorite Real Madrid player. My first kit was the #7, and I would kiss my ring finger whenever I scored just like him. He embodied all of the ideals of Real Madrid and it was very difficult to see him leave. In a way I think I have lost a bit of my connection to the club because Raul and to a lesser extent Guti have left. I am still waiting for another hero to rise up from the youth team and lead the team to glory.
T: A Real Madrid moment you can’t forget?
C: It might not be much of a moment, but I remember an amazing comeback win against Olympiakos a few years back where Robinho scored the winner. I was so excited I jumped up and hit my head on my lofted bed and was knocked out for a few seconds. The Toconazo from Guti to Benzema to end the Riazor curse was amazing also. What was most exciting for me was the league triumph in 02-03 against Real Sociedad because it was the first campaign that I was truely a part of as a fan. I watched a few games but I was constantly checking the news and scores at this point, so I was living and breathing Real Madrid. And the thumping we use to give Barcelona and still give Atletico are always satisfying.
T: La Liga or UCL, which one would you love to see us win more?
C: La Liga personally. This year the field for the Champions League seems weaker than in past years so I think this may be the year, but we need to break Barcelona’s smug dominance of the league title.
T: Which has been your favourite signing for this season?
C: I like Sahin, I think his game is complete and promising. Altintop I dont see the point of, Coentrao was way over priced and despite his versatility and physical stamina is still tactically naive for the role Mourinho has tried using him in. Callejon is a nice token way of adding another Spanish player to the side, but I cannot see him succeeding unfortunately. Varana is a hell of a prospect and may grow in to the complete center back the team has lack for almost a decade. Pepe does not cut it for me, he is graceless on and off the ball and his positional sense is poor. I do really like Carvalho though, he is a world class defender.
T: If you could, which Madridista would you like to bring back? Could be anybody.
C: Raul in his prime. But then again, Zidane would be an incredible player to have floating around in the current team. I think what we still need though is a strong center back stopper, one that plays the ball well like Hierro did.
T: A non Real Madrid question but important with current scenario, do you think La Liga is a two team league? A two horse race? A “league of Barcelona, Real Madrid and the others”?
C: I do think it is a two horse race, and it has been for several years, but no one has taken notice until the two teams spent absurd amounts of money in the transfer market. Valencia, Deportivo, Celta and Sociedad are no longer able to compete with Real and Barca like they did in 02-03, while the likes of Sevilla, Espanyol, Villarreal and Atletico are also years behind. Spreading out the television money evenly is a good way to start to even the playing field. But even if that does take place, the under lying issue of the total debt that Spanish clubs hold will also have to be addressed. Good teams like Espanyol and Valencia are overly burdended with debt from new stadiums and the loss of consistent European football but have no clear way to make that up given their small share of television revenue. Share the revenue and expand the audience much like the EPL has done. If you want to compete with them for fans across the world, La Liga’s level of quality will win out hands down.
Just like last season, if you’d like to be part of the “Know Thy Madridista” series, send in an E-mail to tanuj