Riquelme: “I never saw that penalty again, I will always carry it with me”

The former Villarreal player opens up in a videoconference with his former teammates Senna, Forlán, Arruabarrena and Pires

ANDl Villarreal play this week the game of semifinal first leg from Europa League against Arsenal, just when 15 years of that fateful Champions semi-final, also against Arsenal, in which Juan roman riquelme he missed a penalty in the 90th minute that would have given him the opportunity to contest extra time and increase his chances of reaching a Champions League final. The Villarreal has gathered by videoconferencing with several former players who lived that game on the lawn. Mark Senna, who has moderated, has led a very funny conversation with Riquelme, protagonist of the match for missing the decisive penalty, in which Rodolfo Martín also participated Arruabarrena, Diego Forlan and Robert Pires, that he played that game with the Arsenal shirt.

The conversation, which lasts 43 minutes, it helps everyone to be honest about the experiences that lived 15 years ago and serves to reveal details unknown to date, such as that the President Fernando Roig promised the staff that the full award awarded by UEFA to go to the finalabout 4 million euros) would pay players as a premium for eliminate Arsenal.

But the most emotional thing was moment in which Riquelme remembered the penalty. “People may think it is weird. But playing ball entertained me, it never made me nervous. The club and the players did a great job. I could never return it, neither the game nor the penalty. I don’t think I’ll ever see it again. I have the feeling that we had to play that Champions League final against Barcelona. I think we would have had a good time, “Riquelme lamented, at the most serious moment of a relaxed chat.

I have the feeling that we had to play that Champions League final against Barcelona “

It is a little earlier when he remembers the promise of Fernando Roig and when the penalty sentence becomes almost more lapidary: “That week at Arsenal we had a paella in the stadium with the president and the coaching staff. The president for the first time said that if we won the semifinal, the entire prize belonged to the players.. That penalty I never saw him again, I carried him forever. We were convinced that we were going to win, I said at a press conference that Arsenal were going to have a bad time and that we were going to win, because I was convinced, “recalls Riquelme. In that season, for going to the final the two clubs took 3.9 million in UEFA prizes and the champion earned 2.5 million more.

Pires gives credit to Lehman

Rober Pires I was then in the ranks of the Arsenal -the following year he signed for Villarreal- and celebrated the Lehman stop because it makes clear and consoles Riquelme that it was not a mistake. “People tell me. He missed the penalty. But it’s not true, Jens Lehman stopped him. Honestly, you didn’t miss it, Lehman stopped him,” he says.

Honestly, you didn’t fail him, Roman, Lehman stopped him “

Robert Pirés

Then the player French recalls other details of the match from the team’s point of view gunner: “Wenger’s second told us before the game to be careful because the grass was dry so that the ball would not roll. Our strength was playing fast ball for Thierry Henry Go ahead and we couldn’t play our game It was very difficult, I don’t remember a game in which so much pressure was put on us from above. We suffered a lot because it was the first time that a team put that pressure on us even Lehman, the goalkeeper. I remember the work they did Diego [Forlán], Roman [Riquelme] and Guille [Franco]”.

If Roman scores the penalty, we were dead “

Robert Pirés

And then confirm the feelings that were in the stands. If Villarreal had scored and tied the tie, would have won the semifinal in overtime: “The strategy of the Villarreal was very good. If Roman scores the penalty, we were dead for extra time. We were very tired, we had done a great job. We had run a lot after the ball. That night was very difficult. ”

Pires: “If Roman scores the penalty, we were dead for extra time”Villarreal CF

Riquelme It has been fired from the conversation with a very positive message for this new semifinal that is presented to the submarine, with a special thanks to one of the players who participated in the videoconference: “Villarreal will never have a Forlán. If we got that far it was because of a player like Forlán, because of all the goals he scored that I don’t think even he realized how he was doing them. Hopefully this Villarreal can reach the final. He deserves it. Arsenal have very good players, but he doesn’t have a Pires or he doesn’t have a Henry. Villarreal’s coach is used to winning this Cup, he has won it many times with Sevilla. “

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