Sander Westerveld (Enschede, Netherlands, 1974) admits that he still wakes up at dawn dreaming of what could have been and it was not in those final matches of the 02/03 season against Valencia or Celta, in which Real could be league champion. 18 years later, the txuri urdin team is on the verge of celebrating a Cup title and, from his experience, the former Dutch goalkeeper recommends that the current players in the squad give themselves as if their lives depended on it. That they are facing an unrepeatable moment in their careers.
How do you think Real should play this game?
As if life were at stake, these are the most important games of your career. The most prominent matches when you look back on the day you retire. With the ones you dream of as a child when you want to be a soccer player. It would be very bitter to remember such a match thinking that you could have done something else to win. I still have nightmares about the matches against Valencia in Anoeta and Celta in Balaídos, in 2003, when we were able to be league champions. Players have to be sure that this cannot happen.
Who do you see as your favorite?
In a final, even playing against a Second team, it would be 50%. Details are very important, opportunities should not be missed. And, in addition, it is a derby. You play for the fans, for Gipuzkoa. No one will want to see people’s faces on the street if they get lost.
What worries you the most about Athletic?
It is a very strong team. They have shown, against Barcelona and Madrid in the Super Cup, that they know how to play finals. It is a team capable of concentrating fully for a single game, although in the League its trajectory is more irregular. He has the experience of playing these types of games and this can be very difficult for Real.
La Real plays very well. He has shown that he can stand up to the best teams, even in Europe, but it is important to know that what makes Athletic more dangerous is its ability to focus on special matches. In the finals.
What do you think it means for La Real, for the people, for the people, to be champion again 34 years later? How do you imagine the fans are?
We had the opportunity to be champions in 2003, after so many years, so I know exactly what it means for the fans, for the club. As a player you play to achieve titles and to be a great club you have to be in finals and win a title from time to time. That is why it is very important for the history of the Real to win a Cup.
Would you like to be 25 again and play this final?
For me it is still difficult to watch live games because physically I feel good to play. These types of matches, the finals, are the best moments of your career. The tension, the pride after winning, the faces of the fans. Being able to give a Cup to the fans is the best there is. Even if I was 100 years old, I would still really want to play such a game.
What do you like the most about La Real at this time?
I have been asked a lot about Real in the Netherlands due to their match against AZ Alkmaar and now they have also asked me in England, when they have played Manchester United. I always say that it is a very balanced team. You can play different styles and with different tactics. They are very strong and have shown in important games, such as against Real Madrid recently, that they can win.
Would any player in particular stand out?
Isak is possibly the team’s MVP right now because he has scored a lot of goals at the start of the year but there is much more. He can change several players from the starting eleven and it would still be a good team. I think Real has a very good squad and I hope they show it in the final