Cristian Hidalgo is a La Masia graduate, who has played for La Liga sides such as Deportivo and Hércules. Not to mention his foreign adventures in Cyprus, India Bulgaria, Israel, Morocco and Romania.
In this exclusive interview, I find out more about Cristian’s youth days and his experiences in football.
When did you make the decision to pursue football and what motivated you to do so?
I never made the decision to be a football player, at five years old my parents took me to play at the club in my neighbourhood, I had a lot of fun and I wanted to go to training camp, I grew up and I played pretty well, people from important clubs started coming to see me and it was in that moment I saw that I could become a professional player.
You are a Barcelona youth graduate – this is an academy that has produced amazing footballers. What is it that differs it from other academies? Did you see anyone play there who you knew were going to be playing top level football – apart from yourself, of course!
The academy of Barça is very big, people from all over the world know it because they produce very good players every year. Apart from training as a player, they also train you as a person. I have had the good fortune to share that experience with some great players.
How would you describe your time at La Masia, and were you initially expecting to play for the first team?
I have very good memories of my years at La Masia, especially for the experiences I’ve had and for the friends I made there. When you’re in the academy you always aspire to reach the first team and I was lucky enough to be able to train and play several matches with them.
What were the initial thoughts you had when Deportivo approached you?
When I learned of the interest from Deportivo, I did not even think about it since it was my chance to play in the first division. I spent three years, and I enjoyed a lot, people loved me and the city was small and very beautiful.
How would you describe your experiences at Deportivo and Hércules?
My experience in Hercules was awesome, we were a very united and familiar team and we managed to promote the team after 20 years in the second division. The people were crazy with joy, then coincided with great players like David Trezeguet, Royston Drenthe and Nelson Valdez.
What were your thoughts when Alki Larnaca became interested in you, and was it a difficult decision to leave Spain?
It was not easy to leave Spain to go to Cyprus, my experience was not good since I had problems with the payment of salaries, the president was a very bad person (he is currently in jail), but I am one of those people who thinks that these things make you stronger.
You became one of the first Spaniards to move to India for the first Indian Super League – how would you describe your experiences there, and do you see more Spaniards moving to such distant shores in the future?
Before going to India I thought it was a spectacular country but after playing in the ISL I have to say that I was right to go there. The league was very competitive with great players, all very well organized at the level of the big leagues of the world. I am sure that many Spaniards will go there because the ISL is doing things very well.
You’ve played in Bulgaria, Israel, Morocco and Romania – how would you describe moving from country to country every six months to a year?
It is not easy to travel to so many countries in such a short space of time but I am lucky to have been to many countries, at the beginning it was easy but when you have children everything is more complicated because of the school subject.
What motivates you to move from country to country and do you think adapting to such different cultures has made you a better footballer and person?
What motivates me when I change my country of residence is that I go to do what I like, to play football. Each country has its charm, culture and traditions, the beautiful thing is to see that there are so many different things in each of them, parties, people, meals, monuments, religions, it is fascinating to see how we are so different but at the same time so equal.
What are your plans for the future?
In my plans for the future, I would like to continue to be related to football, I am currently studying the final level of coaching, I would like to start with the children and then go up.
What do you do in your free time?
My free time I dedicate to doing reading, I like music but above all spend time with my family, go with my children to the park, play with them. My children are my true passion.