Lucas Perez: “Thank you to PAOK, they fought for me and changed my life”


THE Lucas Perezhis former player PAOKhe gave a long interview to ESPN where he commented on his entire career.

The Spanish centre-forward, who has now returned to his beloved Deportivo La Coruña and competes in the third division of Spain, he spoke extensively about his time in Thessaloniki, stressing that PAOK changed both his life and his career.

What the former PAOK player said in detail:

“I was lucky: at the football level, things in Ukraine were going well. But day by day it was difficult for me. You were unpaid, there were teammates who weren’t willing to help you, the culture was difficult. When I went to West Ham, I spoke to Yarmolenko and he recognized a lot of things from the stories I told him.”

Did you still have problems with the president?

“They didn’t pay. I was there because I had left Rayo where we had this situation with the Ruith Mateos family (so owner of Rayo) where we were unpaid. We had no money, no salary and an apartment to pay for. I was 18-19 and hadn’t made enough money on the side to get by. I went to Ukraine, they gave me a signing bonus and the first thing I did was buy a house back in La Coruña and save up. But in Ukraine you can go four months without getting paid. Or he could decide (including the president) that he will cut you 20-30%. If you went to ask why, the president would tell you because that’s what I want. And that was it”

In a situation like this what do you do? Are you calling your manager?

“Why get your manager? What can he do? They will do whatever they want anyway.”

But leaving is not so easy…

“I was there three years and I wanted from the first two months.”

And finally how did you manage to leave?

“By playing well.”

Did you have to play nice to get the president to let you go?

“No no. The president of PAOK was the one who convinced him, by paying. By playing well, I convinced him to buy me, so I left thanks to him. He came to Ukraine and fought for me. He and the president of my team at the time fought, negotiated and finally reached an agreement.”

All you could do was wait and hope?

“PAOK told me that they wanted me. Of course I said yes. It is a big club and I could in the European competitions. And the contract was good. There were no problems. Everything goes into your account. They came, fought for me and took me from there. And they changed my life. I had a normal, professional contract.”

Did this situation make you think that football is sometimes sk@t@?

“It’s not just in football. And in life many things are sk@t@. In any job it can be… But we have to understand that in football there are two parameters: the emotional and the professional. You have to be able to tell them apart. Work can be like this…

PAOK opened their doors to me, treated me well and I can only say thank you. The club, the chairman, the teammates were all very good to me. It’s all part of life. Today I am a father, my son cannot walk yet, let alone run. He has to crawl, fall, hit. That’s how he’ll learn. How do people succeed? By failing a million times, by learning. And football is the same.”

So your going to Greece was…

“Huge relief. A professional one. A normal training center, normal travel, real hotels. Everything normal. In Ukraine, our president… used to fly to a monastery when he got angry with us. They were rooms for rent from nuns. We had to spend the night there before the games a few times and sleep in double rooms. They were all connected with religion and austere. In time, you learn to appreciate such experiences. When I went to Greece after that, PAOK was the best team in the world.”

In fact, he openly responded to the money he “gave” in order to return to his beloved Depor, who is now playing in the third division of Spain.

“It’s a big difference, big… It’s 90,000 euros net, this season. And I had more or less one of the best contracts in Cádiz. I don’t know if it was the biggest, but it was more or less. And I had an offer to renew for another two years and they would give me more.”

And did you pay the transfer fee yourself?

“Yes, 493,000 euros! I didn’t go to the bank, I took out the money and gave it. The president of Cadiz did. It was from the money he owed me. But the money was mine, I had earned it but hadn’t taken it yet. I have been lucky, I have always had good contracts in the first division and almost 40 million euros have been spent on my transfers. So I always felt that I left money to the teams, that they made a good investment with me.”

Source: Sport Fm

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