Javi Gracia: “In 2013 the collective goal was put before any personal situation”

Javi Gracia touched the sky of Almería on the night of June 22, 2013. The Navarrese coach is the only coach, along with Unai Emery, who has managed to be promoted to the First Division with the rojiblanco team. From Qatari lands, where he has achieved the last league with the Al-Saad coached by Xavi Hernández, he attends the official radio station of the Indálica entity. Gracia proudly remembers that 12-13 season and asks the Almeria fans to enjoy a historic day for sport in their province.

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How are you doing in Qatar?

I’m in Doha, I came in November when Al-Sadd, who was already first, changed coach. Xavi left the team to go to Barça, I met with them, I found out about this and I made the decision to come. The experience has been very good, being League champions and in the Cup we reached the semi-finals. We are on vacation waiting for next season and talk with the club to make a decision.

The country must be looking forward to the World Cup.

The country looks excited. He has worked hard preparing some spectacular stadiums. It will be prepared to receive a lot of people and for it to be a different World Cup. They are working very well and I think it will be worth an experience with all this effort and sacrifice at the organizational level with so many setbacks.

Are you ready to hand over the title of last coach to be promoted with Almería to Rubi?

I hope it’s because I’ve been in the First Division for many years. I am very happy with the stage that I lived in Almería and for the luck of meeting so many good people enjoying the good and bad moments of the season, achieving the goal of promotion as a reward for a lot of work and enthusiasm. I currently see that a club like Almería can return to the First Division, I am sure it will, and I will enjoy seeing it in the First Division in the hands of Rubi, who was our rival in the final with Girona when we went up after eliminating them and Las Palmas. He has always had a very good behavior, without having a deep relationship I feel good when I exchange calls with him. I wish him well.

What did you talk to Rubi after that 3-0 win over Girona that certified promotion?

The memory is of very intense moments of great emotion, because of the result we had an advantage to allow myself the luxury of talking to him before finishing. I wanted to congratulate him for everything they had done because he was deserving of the promotion for what they had done during the league. It was a great team that did not have that fortune that it takes to achieve it. He wished him well and then he has had a reward in different teams. I’m not surprised.

That promotion had a lot of merit.

It has always been a very difficult goal because there are many months and you have to be very constant. We had a great Elche and a great Villarreal with great potential. When we lost in Murcia it was the most delicate moment, but thanks to the professional and personal quality of the players and that strength that had been generated throughout the year, based on many reasons, the group knew how to overcome those moments proving to be worthy of promotion by a longer way that we also enjoyed.

The defeat in Murcia marked a turning point, with five wins in a row afterwards.

These are hard times that you have to be honest and say things as they are. Sometimes you don’t like it, but that’s how it is. The great merit of that squad was its quality and strength, in addition to the union to achieve the goal that we all wanted. You never know how things are going to turn out, now it is easy to say that anything was the key for everything to end well, but there was a breeding ground of great camaraderie, generosity and work that put a collective objective before any personal situation for which a number of players could pass. That was the key.

Is the best value of a coach his credibility?

The coach always tries to do his job to the best of his ability and there are circumstances that sometimes make it easier or more complicated. Everything happens to achieve good results; otherwise there is no credibility. That the player is convinced of what the team needs, apart from what he needs, is the key to everything being successful. It is the difficulty that we had and every day we have more, the immediacy in everything. The position of the coach depends a lot on that.

Do you think that a promotion is the best possible title?

One keeps many fond memories, not only of getting that final prize such as a promotion. Here we have won a league title and you have the medal at home. Not only that feeds the coach’s ego. For me there have been seasons that, without winning titles, we have been at a great level achieving a meritorious qualifying position. At a social level, titles are recognized more, but the work of professionals must be valued based on the possibilities they have. We are not something apart from the rest of the world. The promotion is very present to me and I am very proud.

He always said that you had to know how to enjoy the journey.

The current coach will know better than anyone, better than me of course. He will know how to manage what he has done so well throughout the season. They have tremendous soul strength and whatever they do is going to be fine. It is a matter of the hours passing and anxiety not being able to with the objective that is going to be fulfilled, doing things as naturally as possible.

What do you think of the current Almería project?

It is another club, with a new presidency that has tried to change many things from the beginning and its ambition has been seen. Then everything can be possible because with good professionals and choosing them well, you have options. There is a lot of competition in the category and it is not easy because there are important provincial capitals that do not achieve that goal. It should not be underestimated that by the fact of having possibilities it is going to be achieved because many others do not achieve it. He was one of the candidates, but after doing a creditable job.

Do you have any message for the red-and-white fan?

What I can tell you is that congratulations because you have a shot at it and I’m sure you’re going to get it. Enjoy it a lot because you don’t know how things are going to turn out. You never know when the book ends, they must value what they have, what they do, and take care of their coach, players and the people of the club, which is the best way to enjoy themselves. Almería should be proud being in the First Division, Second Division or wherever they are. In First you will logically enjoy much more for the follow-up at the national level.